Sunday, 5 October 2008

Dogs and Fireworks Don't Mix! What to Do to Help Your Frightened Dog

Dogs and fireworks should be on different planets!

The majority of dogs are frightened, and some are absolutely terrified by fireworks.
Dogs hearing is much more sensitive than ours, so the problem is magnified.

Fireworks can be heard at Christmas , New Year, Diwali, private parties, etc. as well as on Guy Fawkes Night. November 5th is creeping up on us, so start preparing NOW to help your dog with its fear.

So what can we do?

  • Make a secure, safe place for your dog. This can be done by placing his bed behind a sofa. Being in a quiet, dark corner with familiar things is very comforting to a dog.
  • Make sure he cannot escape from the house. Be vigilant and careful with doors. Dogs think that the explosions are inside the house and will want to get outside to escape them! Keep his collar on with home details attached, just in case!
  • Don't be tempted to 'comfort' your dog. This can make things worse. You ignoring the noises will give reassurance.
  • Close windows and curtains to reduce noise levels, and to hide flashes.
  • Have the TV or radio on. Research by Dogs Trust has shown that Classical music can have a calming effect.
  • Feed your dog and take him outside to empty himself BEFORE the fireworks start. Don't let him out on his own, just in case he tries to escape.
  • Don't worry if your dog refuses food.
  • Play with your dog - this is a good distraction.
  • I've used Bach Rescue Remedy on my dogs with some success. Give just before the noise starts! Repeat as per instructions on the bottle.
  • DAP - dog appeasement pheromone - can help. It calms anxious dogs.
  • In very severe cases of fear, it could be worthwhile to consult your vet or a dog behavourist.
  • look out for signs of stress (see list below)

Look out for Signs of Stress

The following are all symptoms of distress

  • trembling or shaking
  • restlessness or pacing
  • panting
  • whining
  • barking
  • hiding
  • destructiveness
  • attention seeking
  • trying to escape
  • messing or urinating in the house
  • refusing food

Please DO NOT take your dog to a fireworks display. This will NOT cure his fear, it will only make matters worse!

I love firework displays, but my dogs come first.

Boris the lad is frightened and curls up into a ball in his bed. He looks tiny and he is a big greyhound! He also refuses food. Boris knows well before we do when the fireworks are going to start. I always watch him closely, so I have early warning!

Olive the girl is very laid back. She stretches out on the couch and goes off to sleep!

Good luck with your dog!

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