Fireworks: How you can help your dog

Fireworks: How you can help your dog

It's that time of year again...
It starts to go downhill with Halloween but Fireworks night - or should we say week - is the absolute worst.

According to the RSPCA, about 50% of dogs are scared of fireworks, so in the UK that's 6 million, which is a lot of scared dogs. Sadly the truth is we can't control people letting off fireworks so we have to focus on the things we can control. Although there are no instant and quick fixes for a very frightened dog, little things make big differences and will help you get through the night. We answer your most common fears and questions below which we hope will give you some ideas to get through Bonfire night this year.

Is it ever too late to acclimatise my dog to the noise of fireworks? 
It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks but any desensitisation training you wish to try needs to start at least six weeks before fireworks season. Using YouTube videos of fireworks, start with a short session at low volume, with a distracting treat/toy to chew on or play with. Build up the length and volume over time, but be prepared to back track if your dog becomes frightened and negatively aware. This training takes patience, commitment and time, and may need to be repeated every year, but will make a difference if persevered. 

Does distraction work?
Up to a point! Employing several methods of distraction at the same time can have a useful cumulative effect, which together can ease your dog's stress to a more manageable level. Windows will be closed in November, but also close curtains too. It will help to deaden the sound and sudden flashes of light are also scary. It sounds obvious, but close the curtains everywhere in your home so that there is a barrier to seeing outside. Play music or watch TV a bit more loudly than normal, and get it going well before the fireworks start. Classic FM have a special programme of calming music for pets on bonfire night. Introducing a new long lasting chew or exciting new toy packed with treats is always a good distraction tactic. 

How can I make them feel more safe?
Your dog will read you and note your nerves. If you are a bit over fussy, they'll notice and wonder why. If you are your normal self, and keep calm, they'll be calmer. It might be hard to not react more to their distress but it's kinder and it will help them more. Wrap them in their Ruff and Tumble dog Drying Coat before the fireworks begin. Your walk will be earlier than normal anyway, so after that, pop on the Drying Coat and keep it on. Put the hood up and fasten over the ears as this will help to deaden the noise too. The coats work like swaddling babies and make them feel safe, secure and comfortable. We know that some customers can find the effect instant and very helpful. Consider making a special area where they can feel safe, like their crate or a comfy bed under a table with a blanket over it. If their favourite place is near you, even better. It sounds obvious but stay close to them and be there constantly to reassure them, because your presence will be a huge factor in calming them.

Other useful ideas which may help...
Pheromone diffusers and calming supplements are worth trying as they do work for some dogs and sometimes they help owners feel better that they are at least trying something! If you are very concerned, a visit to the vet will always reassure you that you are doing everything you can to help your pet, and having a professional opinion is always helpful and valuable.