With Bonfire night fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your furry friends and how this can be a difficult night for some of them. While we all enjoy Bonfire night, going to firework displays, standing in the cold and drinking hot chocolate; for some dogs and owners across the country, this is night brings lots of fear and anxiety. If you’re reading this thinking ‘yep that sounds like me and my dog’ then don’t worry. In the run up to this event, there are some great tips and tricks you can try to help make your doggy friend feel much happier on the night and overall make the whole experience much less stressful for the both of you. One of the most essential steps you can take, is to plan to be at home on the day and evening. If your dog is scared of fireworks with you around, being on their own is only going to cause more distress. You want to be sure that you are there to comfort them when they need you.
Firstly, let’s start with some nice simple preparation techniques, things you can be doing to get your dog ready for the event and help them be that bit better prepared. Dedicating the time to prepare your dog will make things much easier in the long run and starting a few weeks before will give your training and management lots of time to take effect. To begin with let’s look at just some safety tips, just in case the worse was to happen. To a little dog not knowing what fireworks are, the noise can be pretty scary, sometimes enough to make them up and run! For this reason, it’s important that the address on your dog’s microchip is up to date and that they are wearing a tag with all the relevant contact information on. Now that your confident your dog is trackable back to you, you can start looking at making some lifestyle adjustments and starting some basic training.
A simple modification to your routine is a nice easy change to make in the weeks leading up to November. As fireworks typically begin once it is dark outside, start to walk your dog while it is still nice and light out. You can even look to build on this further by giving them something nice and fun to do after returning from your walk such as; a food toy, or engaging in some toy play with them in the house encouraging them to settle down after a walk. This little change in routine will make managing your dog through the evening much easier when the night arrives. There are even some ways you can help prepare your dog for the noise that comes with fireworks. Firework sound clips are fairly easy to come by on YouTube, Spotify or most music platforms. Getting hold of a few of these and starting to desensitise your dog to the sound the bangs is a great idea if you have a fearful dog. Of course we want to make sure that your dog doesn’t become scared by the sound of the clips, so be sure to start at a low volume and get louder each time. To make sure that your dog is having a nice positive experience while the clips are running, give them something nice and fun to do; a food toy, playing with toys or even a cuddle on the sofa are some great ideas to use for this.
So what next? Now that you’ve spent time getting ready for the night what happens when the day finally arrives. Your dog should have already been for their walk, while it is still light and all set with a kong or toys for the evening. Before all the noise starts it’s a good idea to set up a nice safe place for your dog to retreat to if they become worried. When thinking about a safe space, we ideally want somewhere away from the windows and somewhere that is going to help block out the noise. The easiest way to achieve this is with a covered dog crate, setting it up somewhere nice and quiet with a heavy blanket of duvet over the top. If you don’t own a dog crate and realistically you’re only going to need it this one night, don’t worry! Now is the time to get creative! Providing that your designated safe space serves the same purpose as a crate, it can be made out of anything you want! A chair with a blanket over, a table, a big box the choice is completely up to you. However, one golden rule to remember is to always let you dog choose to use this space and never shut them in.
With your safe space now set up, you’re nearly ready to go. Now it’s time to just make a few small environmental changes to help keep your dog happy. When we think of dogs being scared of fireworks our minds often jump straight to the idea of the sound being scary but, we rarely consider that sporadic flashes of light coming through the window can be quite disorientating for our furry friends. A nice way to minimise the effect of this, is to simply keep the lights indoors on and the curtains closed. This should reduce the amount of light that your dog can see while the fireworks are going on. Lastly it’s time to switch on the Tv or radio and crank up the volume to drown out some of the noise. If you’re a fan of dance music you’re in luck! Generally something with a bit of bass to it has proven quite effective in helping muffle the sounds of the bangs going on outside. Of course this isn’t an invitation to have a party, you ideally want the volume a little louder than average.
Now you’re all set to help make fireworks night as stress free for both you and your dog as possible. Remember, as well as all the changes and preparation you have put in place it’s important to just be there for you dog and comfort them when necessary. I’m sure we’ve all read or heard at one point ‘don’t hug them, you’ll reinforce their fear’ but is this really true? If you’re scared of spiders and someone gives you a hug to comfort you while one scuttles across the floor in front of you, this isn’t going to make you more scared of the spider. If anything this is likely to make you feel safer and supported. The same rules apply to you and your dog, hugging them isn’t going to increase their fear, it’s going to let them know that you are there for them and that they can rely on you to help them through the evening.
If you would like any further advice or support with regards to fireworks night and helping your dog prepare, please do not hesitate to contact Here Boy! Dog Training. We would be more than happy to help in anyway way that we can! if you're looking for fun and exciting toys to help keep your dog entertained on bonfire night, by following the link below you will be entitled to free delivery when you order Tug-E-Nuff toys! courtesy of Here Boy! Dog Training.
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