Dog owners should ‘prep ahead’ of the firework season, suggests an animal charity, to try and help their pets cope better with the noise.
Dogs Trust says the culmination of Bonfire Night, Halloween and Diwali can prove to be a ‘stressful time’ for animals.
But the charity says taking preventative measures ahead of time can pay dividends and help reduce the likelihood of noise fears developing in animals.
Jenna Kiddie, head of canine behaviour at Dogs Trust explained: “With autumn festivities such as Diwali, Halloween, and Bonfire Night fast approaching, it’s best to plan well before firework events start, to ensure dogs cope as well as possible.
“Fear of fireworks is worryingly common in dogs of all ages, and can develop over time, even if your dog hasn’t responded before. Dogs respond to fireworks in a range of different ways, so it’s crucial to have a clear plan, ahead of time, to help your own dog cope.”
From playing firework-themed soundtracks to adjusting routines weeks in advance, animal experts at Dogs Trust have shared their top tips below:
1.Plan ahead: Where possible owners should research and be prepared for local fireworks displays to limit surprises and if needed, to make arrangements to ensure a dog isn’t left alone. Use the internet and social media to diary neighbouring events so that you can adequately prepare your animal’s environment hours before the first fireworks are set-off – perhaps by closing curtains or adding background noise - rather than being caught off-guard.
2.Get pups used to whizzes and bangs – ‘Sounds Scary’ is a firework soundtrack, available through Dogs Trust, which can help puppies learn to deal with normally distressing noises. Backed by years of clinical experience, the sound therapy method is proven, says the charity, to be a safe and effective method to help prepare animals in the run up to autumn events by getting them used to some of the sounds they’re likely to hear.
3.Adapt routines well in advance – You’ll want to avoid taking a dog out when fireworks have started, and that may mean giving them an evening walk much earlier. But it works best to gradually change their routine in the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night - to make it less unsettling – and allow them to exercise and toilet before dark.
5.Respond to your dog’s needs – Some dogs can be distracted with their favourite items or activities, other dogs prefer reassurance, comfort and attention. If you can understand in advance, what works best for your animal when they feel stressed, you’ll be able to better respond when it comes to fireworks night.
6.Ensure your dog has an established safe space – Some dogs will benefit from having a safe place to retreat to should they feel worried by fireworks, whether or not they have previously shown signs of worry. Introduce this safe place well in advance and encourage them there by building up positive associations with their new ‘doggy den’.