It is fast approaching that time of year again. If you have dogs that are worried and frightened by fireworks, here are a few pointers:
– Start getting your dog used to firework sounds well before Bonfire Night. These are available from any Pet Sound CD, or you could download some firework sounds from the Internet. To help your dog get desensitized to the sound, you want to play them at a low volume repeatedly. The idea is that the dog hears the sounds but is at a low enough volume that they can cope with. Gradually, increase the volume ever so slightly, making sure your dog is not becoming stressed. The idea is that the dog gets so used to these noises, they eventually just learn to ignore them. Start to feed them their mealtimes during the time that you play these sounds, practice some training or have a game with them. You want your dog to learn to associate that fireworks mean good things!
– On Firework Night, take your dogs out for a walk early in the evening before the fireworks start, so they have a chance to exercise and relieve themselves.
– Close your curtains and turn your TV and/or radio up. You may wish to drape extra blankets over doors and windows to block out as much light and sound as you can.
– Prepare frozen stuffed Kongs filled with your dog’s favourite food to give on the evening, to keep your dogs occupied.
– Herbal remedies can be very effective in calming dogs down in times of stress. We have found Bach’s Rescue Remedy to be useful (a few drops in the mouth or on some food) and Skullcap and Valerian, available from Dorwest Herbs.
– Thundershirts can also be very effective during firework season. Make sure you put it on your dog before the fireworks start.
– Create a safe den for your dog to go to should they feel the need to hide away. You should set this up a few days beforehand so your dog is already used to it. Feed your dogs in there and hide treats in there – you want your dog to learn this is a nice place to go to.
– Do not reinforce their fear by stroking and trying to soothe them if they are stressed – this will only make them worse.
If your dog is really struggling over the firework period, please call us on 07739 815 265. We offer home visits and behavior consultations so can give you further advice should you need it.