Some dogs are totally laid back. Others hate sudden loud noises, finding fireworks and fire very distressing. Sadly it isn’t just one night of fun either. People will probably be letting fireworks off from the weekend before right through to the weekend after as well as on the 5th itself. What can you do to keep your pooch safe, calm and happy during the festivities? Here are some sensible tips.
Loads of extra love?
Some people say it’s best not to give your dog love and reassurance. They believe that while there’s nothing quite like a reassuring cuddle when you’re scared, doing so will give your dog the idea that being scared always means love, affection and treats, and it’s a good thing to be. Others think it’s much better to give your dog all the love and hugs they need to feel safe and cared for.
Dogs are just like small children. You wouldn’t leave a small child to cry with fear, you’d comfort them. Being loving when your pet is frightened makes more sense. It’s also best never to leave your dog home alone if they’re scared.
Apparently playing soft music can help. And treats are a good way to reinforce the feeling that everything’s OK. Choose healthy treats without any horrid additives.
Take your dog for a long walk before it gets dark and avoid the bangs and flashes completely. Keep him or her on a lead even if you usually let them run free, just in case a stray early firework causes them to panic, run away or dash into the road.
Let your dog lie wherever he or she wants to. They might feel safest under the bed or behind the settee. If that’s where they want to be, let them stay. Draw the curtains and windows to keep the worst of the noise out. Move their bed and toys there, plus snacks and water, and spend time reassuring and loving them.
Calming tablets and pheromones
You can buy herbal tablets for nervous dogs, particularly useful on Bonfire Night. They tend to include stuff like Calcium, Magnesium, Brewer’s Yeast, Passion Flower, Valerian powder and Hops. You can also get plug-in dog pheromone diffusers and sprays that mimic the calming smells female dogs give off when they have puppies.
De-sensitising your dog to loud noises
If your dog hates loud bangs they might also get anxious about thunder and other loud noises. In the long term you can try to de-sensitise your dog using positive reinforcement. Some special training CDs including as many as 30 different sounds, but there’s a special firework edition by Crash Bang Wallop or search Google for alternatives.
There’s no guarantee. Like humans, every dog is different. But in the long run it could help your dog feel better in all sorts of noisy situations.
Who says vests are un-cool?
There’s a special doggie vest that exerts a gentle, constant pressure whenever your dog feels anxious, stressed or scared, apparently helping them stay calm and focused with no training required. It’s called the Thundershirt.
Keep calm and carry on
It helps to stay calm yourself. If you’re hitting the ceiling with every bang, wound as tight as a spring with the noise, your dog will sense it. Comfort each other and you’ll both be fine!
Do you have any tips about looking after your dog on Bonfire Night?
What about you? Do you have any tips or even a great doggy fireworks night story?