Doggy Tails: Fireworks anxiety tips

Burts reaction to Fireworks
Burts reaction to Fireworks
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A lot of your dog’s misery can be avoided, or at least reduced if you prepare ahead before your dog turns into a quivering wreck on Bonfire Night.

Exposing the dog to the sound of fireworks for short sessions, starting at a low volume, very gradually increasing to louder over a period of time (days and weeks not minutes) as long as the dog shows no signs of stress. Too fast might make the dog even more frightened. The dog should appear relaxed and you can play a favourite game or feed his favourite food and condition the dog to feel differently about the sound of fireworks. The Dogs Trust has a Sounds Scary Programme on its website where you can download firework noises. Another form of sound therapy is “Through a Dogs Ear” designed to reduce anxiety. Played well in advance of fireworks day when the dog is relaxed he will begin to associate the music with being calm. Ask your vet about temporary calming medication to give to the dog before fireworks start. On the day of expected fireworks make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. Provide them with a safe place to retreat, allowing them to come and go when needed, confinement can cause panic.

A comforting arm and presence can help a phobic dog to cope as long as you remain calm. Play calming music or use other sounds to mask the noise outside and close windows and curtains to shut out the flashing lights. There are canine wraps that reportedly help (Thundershirt is one) by using maintained pressure. A variety of calming products from aromatherapy, Bach Flower essences, Adaptil collars and anti-anxiety medication can be used Ear plugs or muffs for dogs could be used but you may find it hard to keep them on. Make sure your dog is microchipped and wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar just incase they get outside, panic and run.