With autumn festivities such as Diwali, Halloween, and Bonfire Night just around the corner, it’s best to plan well before firework events to ensure dog copes as well as they can.
Fear of fireworks is common in dogs of all ages, and is a phobia that can develop over time, even if your dog hasn’t been scared in the past, they may still react this year.
Dogs respond to fireworks in a variety of different ways, so it’s crucial to have a clear plan, ahead of time, to help your dog manage with their stress.
Dogs Trust has offered some advice to help soothe your pets in the lead up to the festivities, which includes playing fireworks sounds in the run up to the event, and establishing a safe space for your dog to take themselves off to.
But there’s more you can do to help mitigate reactivity around fireworks.
Some dogs need comfort from their owner to stay calm but others need a dark, cosy spot to hide away from the loud noises and bangs of fireworks.
Help create this space using a crate covered with a blanket, or invest in a nest bed which is designed to calm down anxious pets.
You can even spray calming scents like this pheromone thunder spray on their bedding and add a favourite toy or enrichment tool to keep them mentally occupied over the course of the night.
If your dog is very attached to you, add a recently worn item of clothing to their bedding to keep your scent very prominent for your dog.
Often people don’t wait till darkfall to set off some fireworks. If you think the sounds and sights might be frightening to your dog, make sure to set off on their walk earlier in the day.
Exercising your dog is especially important on weekends like this, as a tired dog tends to be less reactive when fearful. This also reduces the number of trips to the garden for toilet breaks throughout the night, which can be triggering for already frightened pets.
Scatter feeding is a game that many play with their pets to enhance dinner time and keep their dog busy for longer.
But did you know this way of feeding can be therapeutic to stressed pets?
Sprinkling some of their kibble or favourite treats around the room or inside a snuffle mat, can be just the trick to get your dog focussed on the scent of the food instead of the fireworks outside.
When dogs engage in sniffing, a part of their brain is activated which helps to naturally calm them down. So create a game that gets them sniffing and show them how fun and engaging a night in can be, regardless of the fireworks.
There’s lots you can do to help your dog stay calm this Bonfire Night, from playing classical music or a specific dog calming track on Spotify, to preparing some frozen Kongs full of their favourite treats to keep them occupied.
The key to a calm and happy Bonfire Night is planning ahead. By making sure your dog is not left on their own during the fireworks, and using the tips above to create a calm environment at home, you can reduce their fear.
Good luck, hope you have a safe and enjoyable weekend!