According to research by the RSPCA, 45% of dogs are scared of fireworks. So, with Bonfire Night fast approaching, here are some top tips on how to help your dog have a less stressful time when the rockets start to go off.
How to prepare before Bonfire Night
Don’t leave your dog alone in the house on Bonfire night, especially if you know they don’t like fireworks. If you are planning to go out, why not see if there are any BorrowMyDoggy borrowers nearby who could sit with your dog that evening. And be sure to have a chat with them on how they should act, should your dog start seeming anxious.
Check out when the local firework displays are happening in your area, so you know exactly when there are going to be any major disturbances. Leading up to Bonfire night, try playing a soundtrack or video of fireworks quietly in the house, and build up the volume very slowly. There are lots of free to use resources online that can provide examples of scary noises including fireworks. These sounds can familiarise your dogs with the noise and help to desensitise them before the fireworks start. When trying sound therapy, be sure you don’t over-react to anything your dog does. You can comfort them but don’t overdo it. Provide them a safe space to hide in too, if they are unsure. If they get distressed though, stop the sound training and give them a break until another day.
Ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise on the day of Bonfire night so that they’re nice and tired by the evening. It’s always good to keep them on the lead though, particularly if lots of people in your street are hosting Bonfire Night parties and letting off fireworks, even if it’s not dark yet, as sometimes people can start a bit early!
Create a safe place in your home for your doggy to retreat to if they get scared. This should be somewhere they feel safe and somewhere they feel they can find some quiet and privacy. Adapting their crate can be a great idea, or using a table, they comfortably fit under. Covering either with a heavy blanket, that comes down the side a little – and keep the door open of a crate so they can come and go as they please.
How to calm your dog during fireworks
Inside is better. Other than necessary toilet breaks, Bonfire night is a time for spending inside! That way, you’ll know your dog is safe. If they’re bored, why not play some mentally stimulating games.
Feed your dog slightly earlier than usual, as if they start to feel anxious, they might lose their appetite.
Close all doors and windows leading outside, and close all your curtains to stop the sound and lights from the fireworks flashing through. If you do have to go outside, make sure you shut your dog in a different room before opening the front door.
Turn your TV or radio up slightly louder than you would usually, to mask the sound of the fireworks.
Keep your dog stimulated in the evening by playing with their favourite toys. You could also buy some new toys to get them excited or keep them entertained by filling a kong with their favourite treats. Interactive toys and puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your dog entertained and they can distract from the noises outside too!
We hope these tips help. Always remember to remain as calm as possible around your dog when fireworks are going off and keep them as comfortable as you can. Stay safe and remember if you’re ever concerned always contact your local vet for advice.