We LOVE this time of year here at Little Soap HQ, but we can’t always same the same for our four legged friends. Dressing up in snuggly warm clothes to watch Catherine wheels and firecrackers, hot chocolate in hand and friends by our sides… bliss! But in reality Bonfire Night can be a source of extreme anxiety for dogs (and their owners!) and with the RSPCA reporting that around 45% of dogs find fireworks stressful, we thought it might be helpful to post some tips and tricks we’ve picked up over the years. Here are three little tips for keeping dogs calm on Bonfire Night.
Do a little research and prep
It makes sense to have a look into when and where local firework displays are going to be held so that you can be as prepared as possible. If you know when the main disturbances are likely to occur, and how close to your home they are, you can at least be ready for the fall out.
On the days leading up to Bonfire Night, you can try to prepare your dog for what’s coming by playing a soundtrack or Youtube videos of fireworks in the house. Keep the volume down (you don’t want to cause unnecessary stress) and keep an eye on your dog’s reaction. The idea is to ‘acclimatise’ them to the sounds, not to frighten them.
Stay active during the day
Another good way to prepare your dog for the potential disturbance ahead is to ensure they get plenty of exercise during the day. This will help them to feel tired by the evening, and hopefully they can sleep through as much of the noise as possible. That said, its still a good idea to create a safe place at home for your dog to retreat to if he does become distressed. Be on hand for cuddles if your dog wants them, and pad the area out with cushions so that you can both rest comfortably! You might also want to feed your dog a little earlier than usual on Bonfire Night, as some dogs can lose their appetite when feeling stressed. Nothing wrong with an early dinner every now and then!
Remember that if you’re stressed and anxious its likely that your dog will pick up on this and mirror your emotions. Stay as calm as you can, keeping a close eye so that you can intervene only if necessary. Close all of your doors and windows leading to outside and draw the curtains- time to snuggle up, hooray! Stay enclosed in your cosy cocoon and block out as much of the sound and light from outside as you can- and try to avoid going outside yourself if possible.
During the evening, you may find that turning up the TV or playing slightly louder than usual music helps to calm and to mask the sounds outside, but often there is very little more that you can do other than to just get through it. Distract your dog with toys, treats and cuddles, and if they do start to become upset then take action to calm and reassure.
Bonfire Night can be hard work when you have a dog, but hopefully the commotion will die down soon enough and hopefully these tips will help too! Do let us know in the comments how you get on.