Published: 12 October 2017
It’s that time of year that many dog (and other pet) owners fear - when the fireworks start to appear. With Bonfire Night coming up soon, and then the run up to Christmas and the new year, there are many occasions for firework displays and, of course, the subsequent stress for dogs.
If you have a puppy, you’re in luck: you can include exposure to loud noises in its training. This should, hopefully, reduce the likelihood of them finding loud bangs and similar noises stressful or scary. However, this is harder to achieve in older pets but there are some measures you can take to help the situation:
Keep your dog entertained, perhaps with a game, music or toys. This could help to distract him from the fireworks.
There are some simple things that you can do to help your pet:
- Ignore any nervous behaviour and do not pander to it as this reinforces the behaviour.
- If you do have an older dog, there are desensitization CDs available. These are designed to be played in the weeks ahead of firework season with the aim of reducing the impact of the experience and, consequently, the fear.
- If your dog is frightened, ensure that they have a safe hiding place that they can use. Make it as cosy and as sound-proof/absorbent as possible to minimise the noise of the fireworks.
- Make a note of any nearby firework displays so you know the evenings on which your dog is likely to be affected. Remember to take your dog for its walk well before the display is due to start so that you’re not out and about when it takes place.
- Remember to stay calm yourself! Your dog may pick up on your stress so try to keep your behaviour as normal as possible.
- You could also invest in a plug-in pheromone diffuser. The smell of these (which we can’t detect) calms dogs. These are available from the PDSA or your vets.
- Comfort jackets are also available. By providing constant but gentle pressure they give a calming sensation to many dogs.
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