Fireworks’ season is fully underway, with bonfire night around the corner and New Years’ Eve only a couple of months away. If your dog suffers from firework fear, this time of year can be stressful for both of you. There are some simple steps we have researched to ensure a more relaxed atmosphere this fireworks season, for you and your dog.
If your dog is showing a severe phobia of fireworks, it is best to contact your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. Signs of a severe phobia can include aggression, toileting within the home and excessive barking. A veterinary professional will be able to guide and potentially prescribe medication, depending on your dog’s needs.
A month or more to go
Try a desensitization programme; These programmes use pre-recorded sounds of the unusual noises we come to expect during a fireworks display. When this is played, you will positively reinforce these whiz and bangs, with delicious treats to build up your dog’s confidence. It is advised that you start a desensitization programme as early as possible and visit this technique for short amounts of time but frequently over the next few weeks. The more time you leave until your firework deadline, the better. As well as this we recommend starting to use ‘Chill Out’ treats, give one treat just before bed to encourage calm behavior.
3 weeks to go
When a dog feels anxiety, you may notice that they will take themselves to their favorite place. Whether this is a particular room or crate, your dog associates this location with positivity. The next step utilizes this behavior by creating a space that will help reassure your dog through this stressful time. If you have been wise and have already crate trained your dog, you’re halfway there.
Create a den with either a crate or bed in their favorite room. We advise purchasing Vet Bed to cover the area where they will be resting, this will prevent any potential accidents on furniture or bedding. Along with this it will be time to increase your ‘Chill Out’ Treats to one in the morning (after their morning walk) and one in evening to help ease into a relaxed zone.
1 week to go
Now you’ve been supplementing your dog’s wonderfully calm behavior with scrumptious ‘Chill Out Treats’ in the evenings. It’s worth visiting the vets to check if your dogs’ microchip is up to date and is fully accurate. Although this may seem a bit extreme, it is important, just in case your dog happens to escape your home with fear.
The night before
Now the nights are getting darker earlier, it’s always best to get your dog out while it’s still light. Then praise a wonderful winter walk with ‘Chill Out’ treats. The evening before is the time to increase or even double your amount of ‘Chill Out’ Treats – please note the maximum advised for a dog is 6 per day. This will start the calming process before the start of the event.
The night of
The night of the fireworks have arrived! You have come to the final hurdle, where the fruit of your labour should blossom!
Last-minute adaptations can be made to make the process even less stressful. Such as shutting noise out, by firmly closing all windows and curtains, playing classical music in their favorite room and having the television on in a separate room. Keep these to a normal level of sound as you would have day-to-day, to keep the dog balanced and unthreatened by further loud noises.
It may seem difficult, but this is when it is best to give your dog some space, just try to act normally. If your dog wishes to sit with you and is requesting some TLC, it is perfectly ok to give them cuddles of reassurance. However, if they hide or take themselves away, give them the room to do so. Keep your ‘Chill Out’ treats by your side to keep them level and calm.