It’s that time of year again, Guy Fawkes Night. Which can only mean one thing. Fireworks. Whilst for many, the night is a wonderful display, for our dogs it can be quite a different story. As we’re all animal lovers at Podengo we thought we’d ask the experts for some advice, on how to calm your pooch whilst it’s all kicking off. We’re happy to introduce our first guest blog from pet behaviourist coach, Julie Cluely of Julie Helps Your Dog, with her stress-busting tips to help your dog –
The first step in helping your dog to enjoy fireworks night is to get to know the signs they show when they are worried:
- Excessive barking
- Not wanting to leave the house
- Becoming more clingy than normal
- Drinking excessively
- Running away
To be honest almost any change in behaviour is likely to be a sign that your dog is concerned about the noise/smell created by fireworks.
It’s also helpful to remember why they might be scared. There is the obvious, it’s a loud noise and it comes from nowhere which is frightening in itself. However, it’s worth remembering that our dogs live in our world. They live in a world they don’t understand every day of their lives and that is often difficult for many of our dogs. Add in a firework and even a dog that is coping well with the everyday craziness of our human lives may find fireworks is just too much.
Much of the time our dogs feel like, not only do they have to look after themselves, but they also have to look after us, their human owner. This is really what causes much of the problem, if it’s just themselves they need to look after, if you keep them home, remain calm and relaxed yourself, then it is likely your dog will be able to cope with fireworks night.
If you have an idea your dog is not coping with fireworks night, it is worth knowing that if you can change their mind about having to worry about you and your human family, then they will be able to relax around Fireworks.
There is a 2 tier strategy to solving your dog’s stress around fireworks;
The band-aid approach
The first is what I call a “band-aid” approach, where you don’t address the root cause of the problem, but you do help them on the night or when fireworks are around.
Here are some tips in this tier:
The first thing is to accept you can’t control fireworks, where or when they might go off suddenly. ( I know I hate it too, but us getting angry/frustrated and stressed will not help our dogs)
- Don’t walk your dog around fireworks night. (I promise they won’t spontaneously combust!) Your dog will be much happier in the safety of their home when fireworks are going off.
- If you do need to leave the house for toilet breaks, for example, do not allow them off the lead. If they get a fright there is a good chance they will take the “flight” option if it’s available to them.
- When you are at home with them, don’t make a fuss of them either physically or with your eye contact. I know it’s really hard, but if they see us worried they don’t understand that you are worried about them, the dog. They think you are also worried about the fireworks which reinforces their worry. If you can just go about your evening as normal, this will really help them to see there is nothing to worry about.
- Do anything you need to do to calm yourself down, be that play some music, watch the TV, have a bath, read a book. Whatever works for you is good.
- Allow your dog access to their safe place, be it bed, crate, under the table, basically where ever they want to go.
- Closing the curtains can be helpful to create that calm, cosy safe place at home.
The Second Tier
The 2nd tier which will mean that you and your dog don’t have to go through this stressful situation every year is to start now for next year. Get to the root cause of the problem and change your dog’s mind about having to worry about fireworks at all.
This is a process where you show your dog that you are their calm, relaxed and confident owner every day of the year. So that come the time when a firework goes off, they can look to you, see if you are concerned, if not they can immediately relax.
It will take time for your dog to trust you completely because a firework is very scary, but it can be done. It’s very simple and you can get started right now.
In order to change your dog’s mind, all you need to do is implement these 4 care connections calmly and consistently and your dog will remain its lovely calm, relaxed self even on fireworks night. I hope you find this information helpful. If I can be of any further assistance, come and join me in my FB community where I offer all sorts of Free tips and tricks around dog behaviour.