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Fear of Fireworks

Dogs can become stressed around fireworks

With Bonfire Night set to explode into action, and many fireworks displays taking place over the following days, itís important to remember that your dog may well be distressed by the flashing lights and loud bangs at this time of year. The Kennel Club has issued this information.

Dogs' acute sense of hearing means theyíre especially vulnerable around fireworks night. The Kennel Club has identified a few steps you can take to alleviate your dogís stress and make things more bearable:

Things to do...

  • Make a safe den for your dog to retreat to if he or she feels scared. Alternatively, let your dog take refuge under furniture and include an old, unwashed piece of clothing like a woolly jumper so that your dog can smell your scent and feel comfortable.

  • Check where and when displays are being held in your local area.  Also ask your neighbours to let you know if they are planning anything.

  • Consult your vet if your dog has any health problems or is taking any medication before giving remedies to help him cope with fireworks night, and always follow the manufacturerís instructions.

  • Seek help from an experienced animal behaviour counsellor if your pet is severely phobic.

  • Feed your dog a couple of hours before you expect any disturbances, as once the fireworks start your dog may be too anxious to eat. Giving a meal with plenty of carbohydrates, such as pasta or rice will encourage your dog to sleep.

  • Walk your dog before dusk.  It may be some time before itís safe to venture outside again for your dog to relieve himself.

  • Make sure you shut all doors and windows in your home and donít forget to draw the curtains. This will block out any scary flashes of light and reduce the noise level of fireworks. Donít forget to block off cat flaps to stop dogs (and cats!) escaping.

  • Distract your dog from the noise by having the TV or radio switched on.

  • Try to act and behave as normal, as your dog will pick up on any odd behaviour. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog. Reward calm behaviour with doggy treats or playing games with toys of interest.

  • Shut your dog safely inside a room before opening the front door.

  • Keep a collar and ID tag on your dog, just in case they do accidentally escape. Make sure your dog is microchipped too, as if he or she does escape without a collar on this will ensure you are reunited as quickly as possible. For further information visit www.petlog.org.uk

Things not to do...

  • Take your dog to a firework display, even if your dog does not bark or whimper, donít assume he or she is happy. Excessive yawning and panting can indicate that your dog is stressed.

  • Tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off.

  • Assume your garden is escape proof.  If your dog needs to go out keep him on a lead, just in case.

  • Leave your dog on his or her own or in a separate room from you.

  • Try to force your dog to face his fears Ė heíll just become more frightened.

  • Forget to top up the water bowl.  Anxious dogs pant more and get thirsty.

  • Change routines more than necessary, as this can be stressful for some dogs.

  • Try and comfort your dog if they become distressed, as this may make the behaviour worse.

  • Try and tempt them out if they do retreat, as this may cause more stress.