For many dog owners the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night can be filled with dread, as even the happiest dogs can become anxious and start behaving differently. From not being able to settle to spending hours hidden away, the effect that fireworks can have on dogs can be concerning. So what can you do to help calm your dog during these times?
If your dog is scared of fireworks it’s extremely important to take a gentle approach when trying to ease their worries. In addition to the sudden bursts of noise, unfamiliar smells can also be unsettling for many dogs. This is down to how our dogs’ brains are wired. They automatically scan for threats in the environment, which is why those loud bangs and strange scents can trigger anxious behaviour.
Regular exercise during the day is an extremely effective way of calming your dog. The aim of this regular exercise is to induce a feeling of tiredness in your pet in the evening, in the hope that they will be asleep, or too tired to notice nearby fireworks. Going for long walks, or playing a few games of fetch in the afternoon are perfect activities.
It’s vitally important to make sure your exercise is finished in daylight, as being outside when fireworks are going off can cause your dog to feel even more vulnerable and anxious.
When indoors, the disturbances from fireworks can cause dogs to become agitated, causing them to either move erratically, or hide away. If your dog demonstrates this behaviour, it’s important not to force them to stay in one location. Act normally and happily throughout the evening, without drawing too much attention to their anxious behaviour. Dogs look to us for reassurance. If you’re acting negatively, or displaying signs of concern, this will worry your dog even further. By maintaining a regular routine and a calm atmosphere your dog will begin to feel more at ease.
You can make your home feel safer by ensuring windows and curtains are closed to shut out as much external noise as possible. Leave the television or radio on so there is something to distract your dog. Also, try not to leave your dog alone when you know there are going to be fireworks.
You can make your home a calmer environment by ensuring windows and curtains are closed to shut out as much external noise as possible. Leaving the television or radio switched on can also be a way of distracting your dog from what’s going on outside. Also, it’s extremely important to never leave your dog alone when you know there are going to be fireworks.
Sadly, the anxiety dogs can feel during fireworks season can lead them to bolt and go missing. Preparation is key to prevent this happening with your dog. For instance, make sure the garden is secure, and that your dog can’t easily access the front door. You should also ensure that your dog is wearing an ID tag - like the ‘Lost & Found’ tags we’re currently piloting with our collars. Should your dog escape, these ID tags can make them much easier to locate.
But rest assured, anxious behaviour caused by fireworks is temporary. If you have taken steps to make the environment as relaxing and normal as possible, they shouldn’t have a lasting effect on your dog and they’ll be back to their usual self in no time at all.
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