NINE TOP WAYS TO PREPARE YOUR DOG FOR BONFIRE NIGHT FIREWORKS SO THEY DON’T PANIC
Source: Mirror (Extract)
Posted: October 28, 2023
October is almost over and Guy Fawkes Night, also called Bonfire Night, is taking place in just over a week.
A dog expert has now advised owners to prepare their pets for fireworks by throwing loud house parties. Rosie Bescoby, 38, suggests playing recordings of fireworks and drum and bass music in the lead-up to Bonfire Night to get them used to loud noises.
She also recommends going for walks before it gets dark to avoid fireworks, building a den for your dog and distracting them with toys. Rosie, a clinical animal behaviourist from Bristol, said: “Don’t wait until fireworks are overhead to start playing drum and bass loudly because then your dog will associate it with fireworks.
“Start in the weeks ahead and it will eventually be used to mask the fireworks. Start having house parties now. Don’t wait to implement changes.”
Rosie says firework bangs can also be played in preparation for Guy Fawkes night. She suggests owners gradually increase the volume over time so dogs are not so shocked by the noises on the night.
Rosie said: “It’s important to make sure you do this when they are relaxed and settled but not asleep. They have a different hearing range to us and hear extreme noises. Over the month you should then gradually increase the volume.
“It means on the night the dog doesn’t even realise the noise of the fireworks as they have become de-sensitised.” Rosie also recommends owners change their walking routine – taking their dogs out before it gets dark in the days and weeks weeks leading up to November 5.
“Don’t walk your dog in the dark,” she said. “If they hear fireworks while out during that time they could become scared of the dark. Start walking them earlier now and changing their routine.”
Another of Rosie’s tips is to build a den for your dog – which acts as a safe place for your pooch to retreat to when fireworks are going off. “Build a den now so they can get used to it and associate the den with relaxation,” Rosie said. “They’ll see it as a ‘we’ll leave you alone when you go there’ place and it gets them to switch into rest and digest from flight and fright mode.
“When dogs are frightened they will retreat somewhere small and enclosed.” If a dog is panicking while hearing fireworks going off, Rosie advises against trying to soothe them and instead suggests activities that are ‘high arousal’ to redirect their energy.
“You won’t be able to calm them down so it’s better to match activities that are high arousal like getting them to chase a toy,” she said. “Or you could make a game out of them getting food, but make sure it’s high arousal.”
Rosie says that dogs should never be taken out in the evening of fireworks night, nor should they be left alone in the house while fireworks are likely to be going off. “Then you’ll have a dog scared of fireworks and dealing with separation anxiety,” she said.
In instances where dogs are struggling with bad cases of anxiety, Rosie says it’s important for owners to take their pets to the vet. “Getting medication from your vet is essential and speaking to your vet could help with your dog’s mental state,” Rosie said.
“You wouldn’t leave your dog limping in pain so it’s the same with their mental state.” Some owners like to use body wraps to help with their dog’s anxiety but Rosie warns that these should be tried in advance to check they are not causing distress.
“You should try them on before the night and observe them to see if it is distressing or beneficial for them,” she said. “If your dog is in fear you can give them reassurance but don’t overdo it. If they are not coming to you asking for reassurance then you should leave them alone.”
To make sure you are prepared in the worst-case scenario of your dog running off at the sound of fireworks, Rosie also advises owners to check that their dog’s microchip details are up to date.
- Play firework bangs in weeks leading up to firework season
- Play drum and bass music to get dogs accustomed to loud noises
- Build a den as a safe retreat for your dog
- Redirect their energy with high-arousal activity
- Start walking your dog earlier in the day
- Do not leave dogs alone in the house while fireworks are let off
- Try out body wraps to help your dog’s anxiety
- Take your dog to the vet if they are suffering with anxiety
- Make sure your dog’s microchip details are up to date
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