With Bonfire Night around the corner, we look at ways to keep your dog calm during fireworks.
The dark nights of Autumn and Winter can be extremely stressful for our pets, especially with the loud bangs of fireworks. It’s believed that around half of the UK’s dog population have a problem with loud noises, and the PDSA Animal Wellbeing reported that 50% of vets saw an increase in phobias over the past two years.
As pet owners, we can usually see a change in our dog’s temperament, but how can you tell if your dog is feeling stressed? Signs to look out for include:
- Trembling or shaking
- Panting and/or salivating
- Tail between legs
- Excessive barking
- Soiling in excessive cases
In the run up to Bonfire night, or times you know there is a strong likelihood of loud numbers, there are steps you can take to help reduce your dog’s stress levels. Try talking to a dog training or behaviourist beforehand to see if there are any methods to help desensitise your dog to the loud noises. Training with treats or distractions, or alternatively playing firework noises in the run up have all been said to work. However, each dog is different and what works for some might not work for your dog.
You can also speak to your vet about products such as Adaptil and Pet Remedy which contain scents to help promote a calm feeling in your dog.
How to keep your dog calm during fireworks
There are other ways to help keep your dog happy on the night. For example, taking your dog for a walk when it’s still light outside could help them tire out and relax later in the night. If you have a flighty dog, it’s always a good idea to keep them on-lead if you think fireworks will be let off to prevent them running off and getting lost.
Once it’s dark try to keep your pet indoors. You could also help by creating a safe place for your dog to go. This could be a little pillow fort or simply drape a blanket over their cage.
Other ways to help make your pet as comfortable as possible on the night include:
- Leave some worn clothes where your dog is likely to settle. Your scent can be extremely comforting to them when they are stressed
- Make sure your dog has plenty of water as worrying and salivating can make them very thirsty
- Close the curtains to block out any flashes from the fireworks
- Keep the radio or TV to help dull the sounds of the pops and bangs
- Avoid shouting at your pet if they are showing destructive behaviour. If anything, try to act normally and try not to cuddle and pet them to soothe. Sometimes it’s best to allow them to pace and worry so they can settle in their own time
- Going for a walk earlier in the evening can help tire your dog for later on in the night
If you are still concerned about your dog’s anxiety and stress you can always speak to your vet or a dog behaviourist for training advice.