Dreading November 5th? Worried about fireworks and your four-legged friend? Fear not, there are some tips that can help lessen their fear and keep them calm.
- Act and behave as normal as your pet will pick up on any odd behaviour. Remain calm, and cheerful.
- Walk your dog before dusk, and if your dog goes out into the garden before bedtime, keep him on a lead and make sure he has a collar with identification tag in case he panics and escapes from the garden.
- If you have a cat, make sure the cat flap is secured to avoid escape. It’s a good idea to have a collar with identification in case of escape.
- Shut all doors and windows and draw curtains to block out flashes from fireworks. It helps to keep a TV or radio on to deaden firework noise.
- In the run-up to bonfire night, it is a good idea to play the sound of fireworks – YouTube has many examples. Play it quietly in the background to get your dog or cat used to the sound.
- Keep the water bowl topped up – anxious dogs pant more and therefore require more water.
- Make sure there is ‘safe haven’ for your pet to hide if they wish – a crate covered with a blanket, or even behind a chair. Anywhere that they see as being safe.
- Overact to your pet’s fear. If it exhibits signs of fear, the best reaction from you is to carry on as normal. If you physically comfort your pet (especially a dog), you could be reinforcing the behaviour – in other words “it’s OK to be fearful”. You are better just to act normally and keep your pet near to you.
- Don’t under any circumstances take your dog to a firework party, tie him up outside to ‘watch’ the fireworks, or try to get your dog to ‘face his fears’ – he will just become more frightened and could take flight.
- Tell your dog or cat off, it will just make him more distressed.
- Leave your dog or cat in a separate room – keep him with you.
- Change your routine if at all possible. Pets like routine and normality.
- Regrettably fireworks don’t just happen on bonfire night – so be aware that there may be neighbouring events for a few days either side of November 5th.