Bonfire Night Advice For Your Dog
Bonfire night can be worrying and stressful for pets. Fireworks at this time of year can go on for several weeks before and after November 5th and this stress can have serious implications for our pets, affecting both health and behaviour, especially if experienced over long periods of time. If your pet becomes stressed during firework season, the following advice may help you to make your pet feel more safe and secure.
For Dogs: Signs of Stress
- Refusing to eat
- Clinging to owner
- House soiling
- Digging / scratching
- Hiding away
How to Help Your Dog
- Exercise your dog before it gets dark in order to reduce the risk of experiencing firework whilst you are out. If this is not possible, try walking your dog in the morning and playing indoor stimulation games and activities in the evening instead.
- For example: If your dog becomes a little jumpy at this time of year it is a good idea to exercise your dog on a recall lead so that you have safe control of your dog in case it decides to bolt. Close all windows, vents, curtains and connecting doors in the house to help drown out the sights and sounds of fireworks.
- Put some background noise on, such as the TV or radio. Playing music with a strong beat can reduce your dog's worry over loud or unpredictable bangs from fireworks.
- Allow your dog to rest where it feels the safest. This may be under your bed, under the table, down the side of the sofa, or under your legs. Placing your dog's bed in this safe place, will comfort them.
- If you are not sure where your dog's safe place is, you can try creating a den for your dog instead. Dog crates are a great way to do this. Introduce the crate a few weeks before bonfire night for your dog to get use to, then place their bed inside to make the area nice and comfortable. Covering the crate with a duvet or thick sheet will help to drown out the noise of the fireworks.
- Do not leave your dog at home alone on bonfire night. They will always feel more relaxed and secure with you around.
- It can be hard to see our dogs in distress at this time of year, and it can cause a lot of worry. If you can, try to stay nice and relaxed on bonfire night. Dogs are very in-tune with our emotions, and if we appear worried and anxious, this may make things worse for them.
- If your dog does become distressed, do comfort and love them! Don't worry, it's not possible to reinforce the emotion of fear. Comfort and reassurance can help your dog feel better.
- The motion of licking and chewing can also help to relax dogs. Try giving your dog a kong packed with something they find tasty and rewarding, or give them a rawhide or bone.
- Beaphar Calming Spot has been designed to help alleviate stress and anxiety. The spot on treatment contains Valerian extract, a herbal supplement noted for its calming properties. If you are concerned about the degree of anxiety your dog shows during the bonfire season, speak to your vet about anxiety treatment.
- Behavioural therapy can also help to teach your dog to cope with the unpredictability of fireworks, through reward based desensitisation of the noises. It can take many months of work with your dog to alter their behaviour towards such noises, but in the long term this will make your dog a happier pet during this time of year and reduce their stress.