Managing your dogs fears of fireworks
Bonfire night takes place traditionally on 5th November but, as we all know, nowadays, fireworks can be seen and heard for weeks before and after that date. Whilst fireworks are attractive and exciting for humans, dogs generally are far less keen and are unable to make sense of the loud bangs and explosions taking place in their normally quiet lives.
Dogs can become very worried and even distressed by loud bangs. Obviously there is little you can do to prevent the fireworks going off around your home, but you can take some steps to minimise the stress for your dog.
Firstly, during firework season, it may be worth trying to alter your routine slightly so that instead of walking your dog during the evening, try to walk her before 7pm, or much later at night so that you are not out and about during peak firework times. If you are out when fireworks go off, keep a tight grip on the lead, but keep the tension down the lead loose so that you don’t let your dog think that there is something to worry about. If your dog is uncomfortable, return home.
Whilst you are all at home, keep the curtains drawn and the television or radio on. These simple steps can help to reduce your dog’s exposure to flashing lights and loud explosions. It’s also important to try to behave as normally as possible and not show any reaction yourself to the noise outside. Your dog will become more anxious if you show that you too are disturbed by the noise. Similarly, don’t over fuss your dog. Your dog will see this as abnormal behaviour and will think that there must be something to be worried about.
If being in the room with you with curtains closed and the television on is not sufficient to keep your dog calm, she may take refuge under a table, behind the sofa, or in her crate. If she does this, just leave her alone, and don’t stress her more by trying to coax her out. Just behave as though everything is normal and she will pick up on your demeanour and feel more comfortable.
Ensure that your dog has no access to outside doors as she may bolt in fear once the door is opened. In case this does happen, make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag so that she can be reunited with you.
Make sure your garden fencing is secure and that gates are locked to prevent your dog escaping in panic from the garden. It’s preferable to keep your dog indoors when you know there will be fireworks. It’s a good idea to ensure that the door to the house is left open for the dog whilst outside so that she can make the choice to bolt into the house rather than out into the road.
Taking steps to ensure that you shelter your dog as far as possible from the noise of fireworks will help to alleviate the potential for extreme stress, and will also help to keep your dog as safe as possible throughout the firework period.
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