Fireworks can be hugely stressful for dogs as they don’t understand what is happening around them and bangs can be startling. Here are our top tips to help make your dog comfortable this bonfire weekend.
- Lights, Camera, Action - Most of us know to close curtains and windows and have TV’s and radios on. But what you watch matters - action films with loud noises will be best at drowning out outside sound! Classical music can be calming for many dogs (we use it at Day Care daily) but it may not be able to drown out loud bangs from outside. We much prefer action films and blockbusters!
- Reassure your dog - the worst advice I have seen is to not offer comfort to your dog as this may ‘reinforce’ the fireworks being scary - this is rubbish. If you dog runs to you for comfort or reassurance, provide it! Holding dogs close particularly is comforting, but if your dog prefers to hide under a table or in his ‘safe space’ then that is ok too.
- Keep your dog indoors after 4.30pm -this may sound obvious but make a real effort to walk them earlier in the day. If your dog is nervous and could run off, keep them on a long leash - even when going to the toilet outdoors, particularly if you have a large garden. Most fireworks are set off from 5pm.
- Create a safe space for your dog - if you don’t have a crate, consider making your dog a den, where he has the option to run to if need be. Dogs are often comforted by being in a small space - we find nervous dogs acclimatise better to smaller environments rather than being in a big open space. (hence why our indoor venue is often better for more nervous pups than our outdoor venues.)
- Thunderblankets - if you have a weighted blanket, you may find your dog is comforted by wrapping him gently in a weighted blanket, or swaddling him gently, much like you would a baby.
- If your dog suffers badly during fireworks, consider speaking to your vet and looking at medication for next year. Alternatively, remedies like Bach’s Rock Rose, Valerian and Dorwest’s Skullcap also are really effective at lowering stress.
- Consider having firework noises playing during the day or days before Bonfire night - initially quietly but then louder. This may help your dog become desensitised to the bangs.
I hope this helps you to have a calm and relaxing bonfire weekend!