For many pet families from October to New Years Eve it is often an unpleasant time of the year. They are left helpless watching their beloved furry family members being terrified all because people want ’10 minutes’ of fun but when everyone says this it becomes an evening, a week, a month (and longer) of pure misery for all involved.
If the evenings weren’t bad enough there is a knock on effect to dog behaviour the next day. The hormone Cortisol is increasingly released whilst the individual is under stress along with Adrenaline. If these hormones aren’t given sufficient time to drain from the system (2-3 days) it can cause the individual to be more heightened to normal everyday sounds and situations for example joggers, cyclists, other dogs, children etc. You’ll need to take it easy on them. Keep their walks simple with lots of opportunities to sniff, give them simple mental activities and don’t introduce anything too hard in training. Make sure they are getting lots of rest and sleep during the daytime and don’t change their routines too drastically if you can help it.
If we have had stormy weather you will need to keep an eye on your fences to ensure your gardens remain secure. Make sure your dog is wearing an ID tag with up to date information on his collar whilst in the home and when he is let out of the house. You’ll be surprised how many dogs go missing during this season, sadly.
Here are a few things you can do to help your dog with fireworks:
1) Take your dog out for his walk before it gets dark and allow him to toilet in the garden before dusk falls.
2) Ensure your dog has plenty of fresh water available. Frightened dog will pant and will need more fluid than usual.
3) Shut windows, curtains, external doors, cat and dog flaps as it gets dark. However, leave internal doors open to allow your dog to go wherever he feels comfortable. Dogs feel safer when in human company. The only time you should shut him away is if you have to open the front food to ensure he is safe and won’t bolt out the door.
4) If you have already introduced body wraps or Thundershirts to our dog, place them on before it gets dark.
5) If your dog is settled and calm when the bangs start, leave him to it but check on him frequently. Do not draw his attention to the situation, this includes looking in the direction of the bangs, holding your breath and looking at him expectantly. Be relaxed and calm.
6) You cannot reinforce an emotion, so cuddle your dog if he wants it.
7) Turn your TV or radio on and turn the volume up to help drown out some of the noise.
8) If you have already introduced Adaptil or Pet Rescue Remedy make sure your dog can escape the smell if necessary. Remember the dog’s sense of smell is much better than ours.
9) Never leave your dog home alone once it becomes dark. If your dog is left and becomes frightened your house may become damaged and of course he may harm himself.
10) If your dog isn’t too stressed you may be able to distract him with an edible tasty chew which is long lasting. When dogs chew they release endorphins to cope with stress. You can offer puzzle items that are already familiar or a snuffle mat. You need to avoid anything that builds frustration or excitement like treatballs. Depending on the stress levels you may be able to carry out a brief training session and run through the things your dog already knows, avoid teaching something new or something he finds too hard.
11) Some dogs will hide away when scared. If your dog has a favoured place he already uses as a den like under the bed or behind the sofa let him carry on using it provided it is safe for him to do so. If your dog prefers to dig, offer a pile of blankets or a duvet to allow him to get comfortable or to hide under.
12) If your dog needs the toilet take him out on a lead and stand with him. Also do this for the last wee before bed, just in case someone decides to let the last one off when you are outside. If your dog is too frightened after the fireworks have finished, set your alarm for the early hours to try again.
If your dog isn’t coping with the fireworks, speak to your vet to see what medication will help.
Remember to keep yourselves safe. A frightened dog can and will lash out unintentionally.
If you are worried about your dog and would like help/advice please email me firstname.lastname@example.org