Get ready for a 4th November Bonfire Night

Now that we have lockdown due to start on Thursday, 5th November, we anticipate bonfire parties and fireworks to be happening on Wednesday 4th instead.

So, make sure that you are prepared for the bangs to happen a day early to help your dog get through the evening with as little stress as possible.

Carolyn Menteith, Training and Behavioural Specialist for providers of Kennel Club Pet Insurance, Agria, describes what dogs may do when they are scared of noise:

“The symptoms of noise phobia are wide-ranging, and go from the slightly worried to full-blown panic attacks. They include panting, pacing, trembling, salivating, loss of toilet training, becoming clingy, hiding, vomiting, digging, trying to escape, and even aggression.

“Dogs can be in an almost constant state of high stress during the firework season, with the stress hormone; cortisol, taking up to 96 hours to return to normal after a severe noise phobic episode.

How to make things easier for your dog:

  1.  Take your dog out for their last walk of the day early, so they are relaxed and tired, and so they don’t have to go out when fireworks are likely.
  2.  Keep the TV or radio on to try and muffle some of the sound.
  3.  If your dog isn’t extremely worried, distract them with treats, games or perhaps some indoor training to take their mind off the fireworks.
  4.  Don’t try and make your dog face up to their fear. For them, it is very real and it is scary. Far better give them somewhere that feels safe – and most dogs find comfort in having a den that they can go to. How to do this?...
  5.  Set up a crate or a pen in a quiet corner of the room as far from windows and doors as possible. Their den will need plenty of comfortable bedding and ideally a cover over the top, so the dog has somewhere they can go and hide safely. Add a bowl of water and some treats – although they may well not eat them. If they choose to use the den, let them stay there as long as they need to and don’t disturb them – just stay nearby so they can feel your presence and in case they need your comfort.
  6.  Ignore the old fashioned and out-dated advice about ignoring your dog when they show fearful behaviour. Comforting your dog does not make things worse. If you were feeling really scared or panicky you would take comfort from friends and family’s presence and support – and your dog is exactly the same. Don’t force them to stay with you, but if they come to you for comfort or reassurance, make sure you give them just that.
  7. Consider complementary treatments such as Adaptil, Breakthrough dog food, herbal remedies, and other natural, drug-free products that may help. If your dog’s symptoms are extreme, however, talk to your vet about possible medication.

While a noise phobia can be cured or managed, it requires dedication and a lot of hard work from owners.

As soon as the firework season is over, plan for next year. Find an accredited and experienced behaviourist who can work with you over the year to try and reduce or cure your dog’s noise phobia before it all happens again next year so you can enjoy the fireworks without worrying about your dog.