It is estimated that 45 percent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks.
Why do they fear fireworks?
Fireworks provide an unexpected loud bang that dogs do not know whether it is harmful for them or not. Not only is the bang repetitive but it is also multiple bangs that the dogs will not be able to pinpoint where the explosions are coming from, or when the next bang will be. Fireworks also provide the visual of flashing lights alongside the booming explosion, and this accompanied by an unpleasant strong smell from the explosives must be truly terrifying for all of the dogs’ senses.
By preparing in advance before fireworks start, your pet will be better able to cope with the noises.
What to do before the day
- Make sure your house and garden is escape proof. Check all fence panels and possible escape gaps are blocked off.
- Ensure your dogs are microchipped before Bonfire Night. In the event that your dog does escape, we can help your dog be returned as soon as possible if the microchip details are up to date.
- If you have a dog walker, it would be helpful for them to allocate a tag to your dog on a walk. During this fortnight, dogs can be spooked and be more on edge during their walks. These are the tags we use all year round to help with this eventuality.
- Work on Noise desensitisation for fireworks. There are a number of apps you can purchase or get for free i.e. Puppy School. The Dogs’ Trust also has a really good section on their website for sounds.
- Make a doggy den. Padded crate/crate covered with blankets to muffle the sound and hide the flashing lights, with a lovely comfortable bed at the bottom.
Spend some time to create positive associations with the den before the day so that they’re happy to go in. For example, they can have a stuffed kong, or treats around or inside it.
In addition, start to plan out some safe places for your dogs to hide on the night.
Work on calming Brain games. Giving your dog something to do during the evening to distract them is a good idea, if your dog is wanting to engage. Playing some of these games in the week building up will get your dog engaged and add value to the games before the night. Saving household objects from now is also useful as you may need quite a few to keep your pup engaged. You don’t need to spend lots of money when you can DIY the games yourself.
If you would like more games please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last but not least, if your dog is showing that they are scared of loud noises and you are concerned about the evening of Bonfire Night, don’t be afraid to reach out for specialist help.
They may need longer-term treatment. Speak to your local vet to see if there’s an underlying health problem. If there’s not, they may be able to offer a referral to a qualified behaviourist who can help tackle your dog’s fear. Your vet will also be able to discuss whether medication might be helpful.
Plug in’s or essential oils on food, on dog beds or on collars can help some dogs. This blog explains some essential oils which may help you. This is also worth introducing to your pup before the day to ensure that they aren’t uncomfortable with the scent. https://www.naturalanimals.com/blog/fireworks-your-fearful-dog-and-essential-oils
Also certain kinds of touch or pressure can have a calming effect. Thundershirts or body wraps are both ways to provide this following Tellington Touch techniques. These techniques can be found on line. TTouch state that wearing a body wrap can reduce or decrease fear of thunder, loud noises and anxiety.
Here is an example of how to do one of the wraps.
Whatever you do to practice and prepare for Bonfire Night, good luck and look out for next weeks’ blog on tips for the night itself.
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