For a lot of dog owners it’s that time of year when the dreading F word comes out... Fireworks.
Sadly as they are unpredictable and on public sale we can’t control whether they happen or not but we can help prepare our dogs.
Here are some hints and tips to get you through the festive period.
If you’re willing to sacrifice a warm and fluffy sock you can make an easy dog ear muff at home! Just cut the end off a fluffy sock around the line where your toes would normally meet your feet and hey presto! You’ve got something cosy that will help block out the sound of the fireworks and provide a sense of comfort for your dog.
Fireworks are typically used as it gets dark, try and get your walk in before it gets dark, even with the nights getting darker earlier your dog can enjoy a run around in the light and some enrichment and games in the house in the evening for the busy brains.
Teaching your dog a new trick is a great way to keep them stimulated, use their brain power and help keep them distracted whilst building your bond with your dog.
Wilsons' cold pressed is a fantastic food to use for training; it can be broken up into smaller pieces for the smaller dogs, it doesn’t make a mess and as it’s a complete food it means your dog is getting everything they need and a meal too!
Sudden loud bangs can make dogs bolt, when dogs bolt in fear they’re often not thinking about where is safe or how to get back into the house but just to get away. If you are letting your dog out for a wee last thing at night make sure all gates are shut and there are no holes in your fences, if they are not secure you could always use a lead.
If you do need to walk your dog consider putting an extra collar and lead on or a harness as well as a collar as a back up just in case.
Reassurance & Safe Space
Remember being a kid and loving making a cosy den to hide in?! Well now is the chance to dust off those fort building skills!
For the dogs that like their own space you can create a more soundproof safe space by using their crate or even your coffee table and covering it with quilts and blankets.
For the snugglers get the tables and chairs out, line it with pillows and get cosy.
Turning the volume up on your TV, closing the curtains and talking to your dog can often help reassure them.
Early preparation can help your pets relax into the firework season. By building up the process slowly you can help desensitise your pet and make it so they don’t suffer with stress when fireworks go off.
In the summer months you can start setting up positive training sessions.
Start by making sure your dog is safe at home and start by playing firework sounds very very quietly in the background whilst giving your dog lots of praise and rewards whether that is food or even their favourite toy.
Take it really steady and build up the volume over 3 months or so. Make sure you keep up the rewards.
Capture the good moments! If a sound goes off in the distance or the lights shine through the curtains and your pet doesn’t respond to it or takes a look before settling back down give them lots of praise and rewards.
This will help create a positive association to the sound.
Pop key dates in the calendar such as events and celebrations that people are likely to use fireworks for. Note the weekends prior and after as these are often the times when displays occur.
Keep an eye out on your local Facebook groups for notifications of displays and communicate with your neighbours in a positive way. Your neighbours may not be aware your dog could get stressed by fireworks so letting them know in advance may change their mind about letting them off or give you notice.
We can do everything in our power to try and protect our pets and keep them safe, it’s hard watching them suffer and stress. It’s important to remember that it isn’t our fault and they won’t blame us. Be strong for your pets and you will both come out the other side of firework season and relax.