Bonfire Night can be a scary time for your dog – but it doesn’t have to be. If you start your preparation early, you can have a calm and happy dog on Bonfire Night. This ensures your dog is in a relaxed state, ready for when the bangs start going off. Read our advice for the perfect preparation if your dog is anxious on Bonfire Night.
In the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night, introduce your dog to the sounds of fireworks in a controlled and gradual manner. There are a large array of firework soundtracks online or CDs you can use to help you acclimatise your dog to deal with fireworks. Start playing these recordings of fireworks at a very low volume, as background noise amongst the hubbub of family life.
Don’t forget to reward your dog with treats and praise for staying calm. Gradually increase the volume over time, helping your dog build tolerance to the noises.
Don’t run before you can walk – patience is the key here. If you start in early October and do this as a course of daily life, by the time the 5th November is upon us, your dog will barely bat an eyelid when the real fireworks start!
On the night, close windows, doors, and curtains to reduce the sound and bright flashes of light. Try turning on some soothing background music like Classic FM’s Pet Classics. This show is especially dedicated to keeping you and your pet relaxed during fireworks season. Catch it on the 4th and 5th November between 5pm and 9pm.
Butcher’s is delighted to be sponsoring Classic FM’s Pet Classics shows this year, this includes a fantastic competition – find out more and enter here!
Or, have the TV on throughout the evening to also help drown out the noise.
If your dog sees that fireworks don’t affect you, it could potentially reduce their anxiety. Animals possess keen perception and can detect if you’re acting out of the ordinary.
When your dog is scared, it’s very easy to want to get down on the floor and cuddle them. But constantly following or excessive attention might make them feel uneasy or puzzled. You can comfort your pet by engaging them with their preferred toy, for instance, but try to maintain your usual demeanour. Altering your behaviour excessively may heighten your dog’s anxiety.
What you need to do is just go about your evening as you would any other night without fireworks! Watch some TV, invite a couple of calm friends over, help the kids with their homework. By going about life as you would normally, you’re physically showing your dog there is nothing to worry about. They will see that you’re not reacting, take your lead and settle down.
What you also need to make sure is that his favourite hiding places in other rooms are shut off. This ensures you are together and they can see that you’re calm. Set up a cosy corner for them in the room you are going to entertain yourself in and just ignore them.
This could be a cozy corner of a room, a crate covered with blankets, or even an indoor playpen. Or if they need a “den” type set up, put their bed under the kitchen or coffee table, but it’s vital they can still see you. Make the space comfortable with their bed, some of their favourite toys, and perhaps an item of your clothing that carries your scent.
You can give them a stuffed Kong or a bone if they’ll take one – just remember to remove it as soon as they lose interest in it. Or if they’re not absolutely petrified and they’ll entertain the idea of a game, then instigate their favourite game with them!
On the day of the event, engage your dog in extra physical activity during the day to help reduce their energy and anxiety levels. Take them for a long walk in the daytime. Be sure you’re home by dusk as that is when the fireworks will get started. Or make time for playtime and mental stimulation puzzle toys to help tire them out and make them more relaxed in the evening.
Try putting between 3 and 6 drops of Bachs Rescue Remedy for Pets (or similar) in your dog’s water bowl in the month leading up to bonfire night. If you have a small dog with a small water bowl, 3 drops should suffice. You can always add one more drop if it’s not making a difference. For a bigger dog with a bigger bowl, add 5 or 6 drops. A month of Rescue Remedy throughout October and continuing through until the fireworks stop blasting off will help take the edge off.
Remember to be safe – don’t let your dog outside when fireworks are nearby, and don’t walk them in areas where displays are going off. Wishing you all a blissful bonfire night!
SIGN UP FOR MONTHLY NEWS
Plenty of tips on ways to keep your dog happy and healthy. Plus exclusive competitions!
Sign up now for a chance to win £50 worth of Butcher’s vouchers in our monthly prize draw.