Its heading toward the end of October and it will soon be bonfire night and along with that come fireworks. Whether you are an “oooohh”er or an “aaaahhh”er its important to remember that not everyone likes fireworks!
Planning in advance can help your dog (and other pets) to get through the firework season. If your pet is afraid of fireworks, as up to 45 % are, it is worth having a chat with your vet. The sooner you do this the better as nothing they can provide will work if it is only done on the day – its best to begin beforehand. Vets can provide advice, medications, pheromone diffusers and can even refer you to a behaviourist if this is necessary.
Our instinct as pet owners is to comfort our pets if they are nervous or distressed and our need to provide reassurance can sometimes backfire. Dogs in particular normally see cuddles and strokes as a reward for something they did, so if you cuddle your dog when he is afraid of firework noises you can inadvertently reinforce his behavior and therefore make his fears worse for the future.
There are some other things you can do, which can help your pet be less frightened of the celebrations without reinforcing their fears.
- Ensure your pet is indoors when the fireworks are likely to be set off.
- Walk your dog during the day rather than at night where possible.
- Make sure that your pet has somewhere to hide if they wish – (maybe a cupboard under the stairs/under the bed – where it is quiet and comfortable).
- Don’t make a fuss of your pet if they show signs of fear (unless they are going to hurt themselves.
- Be calm yourself – pets pick up on how you react so it you are frightened they will notice.
- At night, close windows and doors to help muffle the noises and draw the curtains to keep out the flashing lights.
- Calming music such as classical can help to block out the noises, but make sure there are no loud bangs and crashes on the tracks you choose!
- If your pet has a buddy who is not afraid, try to keep them together as the calming influence may help.
- Ensure that your pet is safe and secure and cannot escape if there is a sudden noise.
- Make sure they are microchipped in case they do escape – they can be more quickly re-united with you if they can be identified.
- Remember smaller pets too, especially those living outside. Bring hutches indoors if possible or part-cover them to help muffle the sounds and flashing lights.
For more information visit www.rspca.org.uk/fireworks