Advice for dog owner’s to keep dogs calm on Bonfire night
How to keep dogs calm on Bonfire night:
- Most importantly and most obviously do not leave your dog unattended at home alone at a time when fireworks are likely to go off. If you must leave your dog home alone why not ask someone they know to stay with them while you’re out such as a family member, their pet sitter or dog walker. People tend to start celebrating bonfire night the weekend before its due right up until the following weekend after the 5th – which feels like a very long time when you have a dog who is scared of fireworks!
- Take your dog on a nice long walk during the day (before darkness falls & the fireworks begin) get them nice & tired for the evening. Your dog walker can help you out with this if you are out at work.
- Distract the senses! Just like us dogs have the same five senses;
With bonfire night coming up it can become a scary time for many dogs who are noise sensitive. I’ve put together a few tips for helping keep your dog calm when those fireworks start.
Hearing – Close all doors & turn the tv up this will help muffle any loud bangs. In a calm, reassuring voice chat away gently to them to help distract them. Alternatively if they feel like it, get out their favourite squeaky toy & enjoy a nice squeaky play session!
Sight – Close all curtains and blinds so those scary flashes are hidden.
Touch – Turn the heat up & make your home as warm & cosy as possible creating a relaxing environment. Stroke your dog gently & calmly – the more agitated & upset you get about your dog’s fear the more you re-enforce the scariness of it to them. Let them know you are there for them.
Smell – Get something tasty cooking, get those little noses distracted with what’s on the stove!
Taste – Treat time! Treats are a great distraction and positive reinforcement when it comes to scary situations for your dog. You can try a long lasting tasty treat to keep them chewing & distracted or there are many different treat dispensers/ kongs / puzzle toys/ snuffle & lick mats which help keep your dog’s brain engaged & distracted from any loud bangs.
- When letting your dog outside make sure your garden gates are secure & do not force them to go outside if they are scared.
- You may want to feed your dog a little earlier than usual as they could lose their appetite when scared. If you get home when it’s dark with the potential of the fireworks starting while you’re still in work & your dog is home alone, why not ask your dog walker to help you out by popping in late afternoon/early evening. Your dog walker could stay with them until you return home & offer your dog an early tea time.
- There are all sorts of calming sprays & diffusers designed to help calm your dog. Adaptil & pet remedy being some of the most popular. Alternatively essential oils such as lavender & camomile have calming qualities – I often spritz the secure cages in my dog walking van with a dash of lavender to help dogs relax.
- Thunder shirts are also an option to help keep your dog calm, just remember to try them with one a few weeks before any fireworks start to make sure they are happy & comfortable in one.
- A good way of managing noise sensitivity is sound based treatment programs. Start your dog off with low level firework sounds & lots of positive reinforcement (way before bonfire night). Gradually increase the sound level at a pace that suits your dog until they become desensitised to the noise. This is not a quick fix & takes time. The Dog’s Trust offer a sound therapy cd with a free download of the booklet that explains how it all works.
I hope this blog post helps make bonfire night more manageable & less stressful. Don’t forget to ask for assistance from your dog walker if necessary. I’m always a text away if any of my customers need help with their dogs.