Remember, remember, the 5th of November – and, most likely, about a week either side of it, as many people no longer confine their fireworks displays to Bonfire Night itself any more.
For pet owners across the country, this is possibly the most trying time of the year – the constant bombardment of booms, bangs and crackles can make even the most confident dog anxious. As specialists in puppy training in Wimbledon, we know how difficult it can get, particularly with a young dog who hasn’t encountered fireworks before, so here are some tips to help.
Prepare in Advance
Ideally, you should start training your dog to cope with fireworks well before the season begins. It’s not just fireworks that are the issue – any loud noises can upset your canine companion. Sound therapy, particularly if provided during the early socialisation stages of your puppy’s life, can help with this. By safely and gradually exposing them to noises that might upset them, you can help them cope later. The Dogs Trust offer free sound therapy downloads and instructions that you can use at home.
You can also speak to your vet about pheromone diffusers – again, you need to start using these before the fireworks season begins, to get your pet used to them.
Most importantly, make sure that you know when the local fireworks displays are going to be – and speak to your neighbours, asking them to warn you before having any private fireworks parties.
Prepare on the Day
Even if you haven’t prepared, there are still a number of things that you can do now to make sure that your dog isn’t troubled when the fireworks start. Firstly, make sure that you walk them during the day, so that you can have them safely at home before the fireworks begin.
Secondly, set up a comforting doggy play area – black out the windows, so that they won’t be disturbed by the flashing lights, give them somewhere comfortable that they can hide (such as under some furniture or in a cupboard) which they have access to any time, and set out their favourite toys.
When the Fireworks Begin
The most important thing to do is be there – yes, it means missing out on the display, but your faithful friend will be much happier with you nearby. If you have any doggy-friends who aren’t bothered by fireworks, consider inviting them over – their unruffled demeanour might help to calm the more anxious dog.
The best tactic is to simply ignore the fireworks, and remain calm. Your dog reacts to your emotions, so if you’re worried about them being anxious, they’re more likely to be upset.
Distracting them from the fireworks can work wonders – we know of one doggy owner who spends her Bonfire Nights reading poetry aloud to her nervous hound! This works well because the structured rhythm of the poem helps make your voice sound particularly calm, and it gives them something to listen to aside from the raucous noise from outside.
The main things to remember are to offer comfort if they need it, and never, under any circumstances, punish them for being afraid.
If you have a particularly anxious pup, our dog behaviourist in Surrey can offer a consultation to help solve your problems – get in touch with us on 07739 815 265 for further details. You can also keep up to date with all sorts of canine news through our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.