As Bonfire night approaches, you may be worried about how your dog will react to the loud firework bangs and wooshes. Whether you have a puppy and this is your first firework season together or an adult dog who’s either coped well or really struggled; this blog is for you.
Firstly, let’s look at some of the signs that your dog is stressed or anxious:
- Licking their lips
- Tail between their legs
- Stiff body
- Trying to hide or run away
- Panting and/or excessive drooling
If you’re able to pinpoint how your dog is feeling, you can then assess what you need to do to help them feel better.
In the UK fireworks can only be legally used between the following dates:
- 15th of October to 10th of November
- 26th to 31st of December
- Three days before Diwali (October/November) and three days before Chinese New Year (January/February)
However, this isn’t to say that fireworks won’t be lit outside of these times… To be on the safe side, it is important to start preparing now.
Desensitise your dog to fireworks sounds
By slowly exposing your dog to very quiet firework sounds whilst playing with them, doing a training session or whilst they are engaging in an enrichment activity, you can help your dog to begin to create positive associations with those sounds. Start with a low volume and slowly increase it as long as your dog is not showing signs of stress.
The DogsTrust have a free playlist you can use: https://soundcloud.com/dogstrust/sets/sound-therapy-sounds-scary.
Safe and calm spaces
To help your dog feel safer, it can help to create a comfortable and quiet area where they can relax. Here are things to consider:
- Make this a place as far away from the noises and lights as possible. Is there a place your dog goes to when they’re scared?
- Add their favourite toys, blankets and/or bed
- Make this an area they can walk in and out of
- Play games and do training sessions in that space so there is a positive association with the safe space
- Keep curtains and blinds closed to keep the bright lights and noises out
- Consider getting your dog a thunder jacket
Enrichment and self-soothing
Providing your dog with enrichment activities like puzzle toys, lick mats, and natural chews helps them relax. These can also work as a distraction and keep your dog busy, not giving them as much time to pay attention to the fireworks.
Here are some of our favourite places to shop for enrichment options:
- https://tug-e-nuff.co.uk/ – use PositivelyPawfect at checkout for FREE shipping
If you are worried about how your dog will cope with fireworks, you can speak to your vet who may be able to prescribe anxiety medication.