Be calm and assertive on Bonfire Night, says dog expert Lynne Marshall in this month’s Love Your Dog column.
Did you know that around 45% of dogs suffer distress around Firework Night? So if your pooch does, you are not alone.
It can be extremely distressing to see your dog suffering and symptoms can range from shaking, panting, trying to hide, howling, trying to run away, to extreme fear.
Prevention is always better than cure so I’ll talk a little about that first.
If you have a puppy under 16 weeks this is the perfect time to introduce them to firework noise. They are still learning about their world and anything new at this stage is likely to be accepted as normal.
If you have a dog up to 11 months they probably won’t have heard fireworks before so the best thing to do is to let them hear the sounds before the 5th November. Take a look at the Dogs Trust site www.dogstrust.org.uk and play the free firework sounds to your dog every day.
If your dog has been through a firework experience and you are concerned about their level of stress, speak to your Vet before the fireworks begin. They can advise on adaptil diffusers to, in extreme cases, medication to help your dog. Thundershirts may also be worth investing in as they swaddle the dog and can reduce anxiety, you can find these in your local pet shop or online.
So that’s a little on prevention – what can you do on the night?
The most important thing you can do for your dog is to control your own emotions. Dogs read us like a book and will take their lead from you. If you are upset they will be more so. Take your dog for a long walk to drain their energy. Draw the curtains early, turn the TV on and play with your dog for as long as you can. If at any stage they just want to hide then that’s fine, too. A little tip is to switch on a fan if you have one, as this creates white noise which will help to mask the fireworks.
I really hope you have a stress free fireworks night and do remember to keep calm and assertive.