Is your dog scared of fireworks? Well he’s not alone, it is estimated that up to 40% of dogs are afraid and anxious about fireworks, and who can blame them? The loud unexpected bangs and flashes make me jump sometimes and I know what’s making them! There are things you can do though to try and make Bonfire Night less traumatic for your pooch and today I’ve put together my top tips in the hope that they will help somebody.
Before the big day
One thing that’s really useful to do is to try and acclimatise your dog to sudden bangs – something I wish I’d done with Maya when she was a puppy but only tried for the first time last year. I downloaded Sounds Scary, available free from the Dogs Trust website and played it at unexpected times and think it definitely helped to desensitise her to random bangs in general. Of course if your pooch gets really anxious at unexpected noises it’s probably better to try a multi-pronged approach or even book a night away in a peaceful location.
There are several calmers on the market that you can start giving your dog a few days before the event that really can help. A couple of years ago we tried Zylkene (you can read what we thought here) This is a product that comes in capsule or chew form and contains casein, a protein found in milk. For the best results start giving this to your pooch a couple of days before. We have been lucky enough to collaborate with Vetoquinel again this year in Instagram so the girls will be taking it this year as a precaution. (Disclaimer: We promoted Zyklene on our Instagram Feed earlier this month as part of a paid collaboration with Vetoquinal but I am under no obligation whatsoever to include it in this post, I just honestly think it is effective and might be beneficial to some dogs)
I am also a big fan of using essential oils and find that burning good quality Lavender Essential Oil in a Diffuser really does have a calming effect on Maya and Lucia as well as me!
On the day
When Bonfire night arrives I always make sure that the girls have had an active time during the day in the hope that they might nap through it! Lucia is an incredibly brave little dog and I think she would go out in the garden and watch if she could but as I said Maya is more cautious. It’s a good idea to build your pooch a little den to hide in if they want to, so they can snuggle with their favourite blanket and toys.
Of course not all firework displays happen on November 5th – find out in advance if there are any displays scheduled in your area – forewarned is forearmed. Don’t forget the obvious things too, such as keeping your windows and doors closed.
Chewing is very relaxing to dogs at anytime, so having a couple to hand might save the day, playing calming music works for some doggies (but not Maya!) as does wearing a Thunder Shirt although I have never tried this as my girls are not overly anxious. If like Lucia your dog is obsessed by puzzle games it’s a good idea to get one out to occupy your pooch, sadly although Maya enjoys these sort of games normally if there’s something to bark about she’s not interested!
Dogs are very sensitive to our moods too, so it’s important to stay relaxed yourself – it’s a good excuse to treat yourself to nice mug of hot chocolate or a glass or two of wine and settle down to watch your favourite film!
The Day After
Encountering used fireworks on walks can be a real hazard for dogs, for one thing they contain toxic substances so be very careful whilst walking your furry friends in the following days. I always try to take Maya and Lucia hiking in places where there is no chance of them picking one up but if I had to walk them where there was a chance of them investigating a burnt out firework I would definitely keep them on their leads.
I really hope some of these tips will come in useful to you and wish you and your doggies a safe and peaceful Bonfire Night.
Sal, Maya and Lucia xxx