Fireworks And Your Dogs Anxiety

All around the country people are looking forward with the excitement to a fun-packed family bonfire night. Although in the weeks leading up to the 5th of November it can be a very distressing time for many dogs.  Loud bangs and flashes that come with the lighting of fireworks can be very alarming to them.

 

This guide will help you to calm your dog during the fireworks season.

BE PREPARED

Ensuring you start your preparation well in advance is key. Exposing your dog to loud noises in a controlled environment can have huge benefits. There are a vast number of CD's, youtube videos, and streaming sites that give you the ability to expose your dog to loud, strange noises in a “safe place”. You can start by playing the sounds very quietly. Then, over a few weeks gradually increase the noise level day by day.
It is important to note at this point if your dog is in the severe anxiety bracket (about 10%). Then this build-up training can have the opposite effect.  Sometimes it can make matters worse. In this case, we would advise that you seek the advice of a dog therapist or a vet. Check out the kennel club website. They have qualified and experienced tutors who have expertise in canine behaviour.
Have a good look around social media/local papers and notice boards. Make a diary note of all local firework displays. Ask around your community to find out if any other low-level displays are planned.
why is my dog scared of fireworks

BUILD UP

  1. Ensure your dog has his/her evening meal early as stress/anxiety often reduces their appetite.
  2. Take your dog out for a long and active walk well before it gets dark.  Make sure they do their business as it may be some time before your dog feels comfortable to go out again. If it becomes essential to let your dog out in the garden to go to the toilet.   Be sure that there are no ways out as they might get spooked by a firework while outside.
  3. Make sure water is available (fill water bowl) and anxiety causes a dog to pant more which in turn makes them thirsty.
  4. Do everything to prevent exposure to sight and sound like closing all doors and windows and drawing all curtains.
  5. If you have a cat flap/door ensure it is locked and inactive so there is no means of accidental escape.
  6. Ensure a safe zone is created, placing dog beds/blankets and even unwashed clothing in a pile with their favourite play toy or treat can provide a calming effect.

DURING

  1. Always try to act and behave normally as dogs are extremely intuitive and if you are stressed and jumpy they will pick up the signals.
  2. The key is to ensure your dog is rewarded with cuddles and dog treats and playtime just for being calm.
  3. Having the TV or music on can create a good distraction, just loud enough to dampen out the bangs caused by fireworks.
  4. Some dogs choose to scamper under the bed or hide behind the sofa which is fine if that’s what they want to do, don’t force them out as this will raise their anxiety levels.

TIPS

  1. NEVER force your dog to confront loud noises – this can have the opposite effect and make them worse.
  2. NEVER discipline your dog when he/she is in an anxious/agitated state as this will only increase their stress level. It is totally normal for a dog to be afraid of loud bangs.
  3. NEVER take your dog to a bonfire/firework event. Just because your dog looks calm does not guarantee that they are not stressed, and they could make a bolt for it and cause injury to themselves. If you notice disproportionate (excessive) panting or yawning, then this indicates an increased stress level.
  4. NEVER secure your dog to a post or fence outside while you pop into the shop while fireworks are possible.

how to help my dog with fireworks

IF ALL FAILS

  • Seek the advice/consult with your vet, if you are considering medication or natural remedies again seek advice from a vet or a canine behavioural therapist.
  • There are group training sessions available which we would thoroughly recommend so look around now as these events do fill up quickly.
  • We sincerely wish you and your furry friend a calm, peaceful, and most importantly a safe fireworks experience.

We hope our guide gives you some ideas on how to keep your fur baby as relaxed as possible during Bonfire night. 


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