Bonfire Night 2023: Six tips for how to keep dogs calm with the sound of fireworks, by an animal behaviourist
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Bonfire night is just around the corner, and though it may be a time of excitement and joy for us humans, for our pet pooches it can be a time of fear of distress.
The sound of a big bang may be thrilling to us, but those with dogs will know it’s a sure way to make your pet agitated, alarmed and even scared. For that reason, animal lovers and pet owners can actually dread bonfire night as they worry about how they’re going to keep their canine companion calm.
To help alleviate some of the stress for both pet owners and the dogs themselves, NationalWorld has spoken to clinical animal behaviourist Rosie Bescoby, 38, who has revealed her tips for helping dogs feel less panicked around 5 November. Here are her six top tips:
Play sound recordings
Bescoby’s first suggestion is to play the sound of fireworks to your dog in the lead up to Bonfire Night, which this year falls on a Sunday, so that they can become familiar with the sound. The hope is that it will then be less of a shock on the day itself.
She says: “Use sound recordings so that we can expose our dog to fireworks in a room where they can remain relaxed.” It’s suggested that you first play the sound at a volume where your dog remains comfortable and relaxed and then gradually increase the volume over time so they get used to the loud sounds we hear from particularly large and explosive fireworks.
Form positive associations
Bescoby says that if we link the sound of fireworks to something positive then this will help a dog to feel much happier when they hear them. “We can form positive associations with noises by producing a favourite toy or maybe a tasty titbit as soon as your dog’s ears prick in response to a sound.”
Provide a den
It’s a good idea to provide your dog with a “safe, comfy hiding place that’s available 24/7”, according to Bescoby. She advises dog owners to encourage its use from now so that your dog is then happy to go there when Bonfire Night comes around.
Plug in an Adaptil diffuser
An Adaptil calm dog diffuser is a popular choice for pet owners who are seeking to calm their anxious dog in many situations, but they are particularly popular around fireworks season in November. Bescoby suggests plugging it in near your dog’s den. Buy yours now from Amazon.
Trial bodywraps and thundershirts
Another popular choice for calming down a distressed dog is the use of a bodywrap or thundershirt. Described as “the best solution for a dog with anxiety”, these apply constant gentle pressure to your pooch to help calm them down. Bescoby suggests trying it on your pet before Bonfire Night so you can make sure your dog is “totally comfortable” wearing them and check that they can still “move freely and behave normally” when wearing one. Buy yours now from Pets at Home.
Take your dog to the vet
Bescoby’s last piece of important advice is simply to take your dog to the vet and get a professional opinion on their behaviour if they have an adverse reaction to fireworks. She says: “If your dog is noise sensitive or has shown a fear response to fireworks in the past, take them to your vet because there’s a strong link between undiagnosed pain and noise sensitivity.”