Remember, remember…your dog during fireworks season.
I am not a great fan of fireworks to be fair. Although I understand that the celebrations can be great fun for people, dogs, cats (and other pets and wildlife) can be left stressed out, confused or, even worse, injured by fireworks.
Apart from the obvious physical damage suffered through accidental contact with fireworks, dogs can be badly affected by fireworks noise and lights. Possible behavioural problems as a result of fear and stress could include house soiling or excessive grooming, whilst there is also the danger of a dog running away, and never returning home.
The best place to start is to try to find a list of local public firework displays as these can run for a couple of weeks over the 5th November – as we know, fireworks are not limited just to Guy Fawkes Night anymore.
Once you know when to be prepared, a few simple precautions can help you to keep fur babies out of harm’s way:
- Give your dog decent exercise during the day and then keep him/her in, after dark. Ensure he/she has had the chance to “do their business” before lock-down. If they do ask to go out during the festivities, try to keep them on a lead in the garden.
- Ensure their water bowl is full. Dogs often pant more when they are anxious and this can make them thirsty
- Try to reduce outside noise by keeping windows shut and curtains drawn. Playing soothing music or having the TV on may also help.
-Many behaviourists recommends to try not to reinforce fearful behaviour by soothing and reassuring a dog that is looking anxious. Try to act happy and cheerful.
- While many dogs like to be settled in a cosy, familiar territory such as a comfy bed or favourite armchair, when feeling scared they need safe places to hide. Ensure they can exhibit this natural behaviour by providing access to a hiding place, such as a den underneath a dining table (simply throw a blanket over the table to create a hidey hole). As tempting as it is to encourage them out, let them hide in there uninterrupted for as long as they need so they feel in control of the situation. Of course it goes without saying that if they come to you for comfort then give it to them
- Make sure all doors and windows are securely closed to prevent your dog from escaping the home.
- A Pheromone plug-in diffuser such as Adaptil can be used to decrease anxiety, and can have a beneficial effect in calming a dog during fireworks. However, you must start using it a couple of weeks before 5th November to maximise the benefit. It should be sited in the room/s in which your dog chooses to rest and you may need to buy more than one if you have a big home.
If you are particularly worried about your dog during the fireworks season then always speak to your vet for advice.
If you are having your own bonfire night celebration this year, then why not consider:
• Buying hand-held cascading fireworks rather than the noisier varieties.
• Holding a ‘silent’ fireworks display – many companies now offer quiet or almost silent fireworks – giving you the same spectacle without the loud bangs.
• Keeping fireworks and bonfire displays as far away from homes as possible, to minimise any adverse effects on animals indoors, although bear in mind the effect these displays will have on wild animals.
• Always check bonfires before lighting them to ensure that no small animals are sleeping inside.