Bonfire Night: top tips for dog owners 3 min read
Remember, remember the 5th of November…
Firework season can be a very stressful time for dogs and owners alike. The loud, sudden noises are incredibly distressing for dogs and this is never nice for an owner to see. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to reduce the impact of Bonfire Night on your dog’s wellbeing.
A brief summary...
- Use sound therapy to desensitise your dog to firework noises
- Walk your dog well before dark, and keep them at home during the night
- Make your pet a safe and cosy hideout
- Stay home with your dog, but try not to smother them
- Make sure your dog's microchip details are up to date
- Distract your dog using loud TV or music, plus fun treats and games
- In extreme cases, use a calming product such as Vetpro: Stress & Anxiety
Preparing for firework season at home
The idea behind this is that if your dog can get used to loud noises, they won’t be as frightened of them. This can take a while to achieve so it’s well worth starting a month or so in advance of Firework season. Play firework sounds at home, quietly at first and gradually increase the volume over time. Remember to take your time and be patient; if your pet shows any signs of distress, stop the noises for that day and begin again the following day with a lower volume (you could even play the sounds from another room). Ideally, your pet will be able to go about their business without fear or distraction!
Walk your dog nice and early - ideally before it gets dark. It's also a good idea to keep dogs on the lead during the run-up to Bonfire Night. They may be scared off by a sudden noise or worse, they may encounter a stray firework or sparkler.
Keep your dogs indoors! They might panic as fireworks go off so it’s a good idea to keep them safely inside – that way, they cannot run away into danger. Try drowning out the sound of fireworks using loud music or other background noise. Distractions also help, so get those curtains closed!
Every dog should have a safe zone. A place to go that is theirs and theirs alone, where they know nobody will intrude or disturb them.
In most cases, this will be their crate. Simply cover it with a blanket so your dog can hide and feel safe as they do so – they can’t see out and others can’t see in. Remember to keep the door open so they can come in and out as they please, this is especially important during times where they’re likely to be distressed...such as Bonfire Night.
Your instinct might be to protect your dog from the loud noises by holding them close and showering them with cuddles. You should avoid this, however. Your pet might be stressed and confused by the fireworks so it’s best to let them come to you. You don’t want them to feel suffocated or claustrophobic. If your pet is calm and settled whilist fireworks are going off, be sure to praise them.
Have you recently obtained a new number or moved house? Don’t forget to update your dog’s microchip details with all of your current contact information. You can do this by calling the microchip company with whom your pet is registered. You should find this information with your pet’s paperwork but if you can’t, contact your vet – they can help. Read our guide to microchipping your dog.
Try drowning out the sound of fireworks using loud music or other background noise. Distract your dog with their favourite game, toy or food just before or during the fireworks. Treat toys such as stuffed kongs can be a great help. Top tip: for maximum effect, freeze your kong toy, filled with a food your pet loves, so that it lasts longer.
Searching games are another great distraction! Simply scatter treats about the house and your dog will search for them.
Stay with your dog
Why not skip the festivities and stay home with your pet? Being at home alone during firework season will be scary for them – they’d really appreciate your company and besides, they’d do it for you, wouldn’t they?
Consider using a natural calming aid
Have you considered therapeutic products? This may take some preparation but if administered correctly, they can really help you reduce your dog’s feelings of stress. We recommend Vetpro: Stress & Anxiety.
If you’re unsure, ask your vet about the most suitable products for your dog.
Seek professional help
If your dog has a serious noise phobia or reacts fearfully to firework noises, you might want to seek a professional behaviourist to help your dog cope with their sensitivity to noise.