Our top tips for keeping your dog calm and happy during fireworks
Posted by Sarah O'Brien
Remember, remember, the fifth of November (and the evenings before) can be very frightening for dogs.
The loud noises and flashing lights of fireworks can cause distress, but there are things you can do to minimise this.
Here are our top 10 tips for keeping your dog calm and happy during a firework display.
1. Be prepared
Check where and when firework displays are being held in your local area. Also ask your neighbour if they are planning anything.
2. Distraction tactics
Distractions can work wonders. Distract your dog from the commotion outside by doing fun things indoors, such as playing retrieve or trick training, offering tasty treats, toys and verbal praise as rewards. Wherever your dog does choose to settle, providing him with a long-lasting chew or toy can be a great distraction from the noise going on outside.
3. Be there
Do not leave your dog alone if fireworks are expected. If you want to go out, get a friend who knows your dog well to come and sit with him, so he's not left alone to try to cope by himself.
4. Stay calm
Ignore the fireworks noise yourself. Stay calm - anxious owners can increase stress levels in their dog. Be as relaxed as normal as possible and your dog will mirror your mood. Rewards calm behaviour with doggie treats or playing with toys of interest.
5. It's OK to support your dog
Contrary to what you will often hear, if your dog is frightened it is OK to provide him with support and comfort. Allow your pet to settle where he feels safe - perhaps next to you. Don't push him away; ignoring your dog may only make things worse.
6. Walk before dusk
Take your dog for a long walk while it's still light so that he is relaxed and will not need to go to the toilet once the fireworks start. If he needs to be taken out again, try to wait until after any fireworks have finished and keep him on a lead.
7. Be forgiving
If your dog is destructive or goes to the toilet in the house, it is likely to be due to the stress caused by fireworks. Getting angry will only aggravate the situation. It's best to ignore it for the night, then seek advice from a behaviourist or trainer as it could be a sign of severe noise phobia.
8. Be secure
Escape-proof your house. Keep doors and windows shut and block off any dangerous or unsuitable areas your dog may get into.
9. Make a 'safe' place
Make sure your dog always has somewhere to hide if he wants to and has access to this place at all times. You can create a den, but he may choose a small, dark corner somewhere - and that is fine. Place a comfy bed in the den, with extra blankets for him to burrow in.
10. Draw the curtains
Close the curtains or use blackout blinds to stop your dog being startled by flashing lights. Keep lights on in some rooms and leaving others in darkness will enable your pet to choose where they feel safest. Use blankets along the bottom of doors to block sound and light.
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