Remember, remember your dogs this November
by Sian Griffin // November 2017
Get your dog used to the noise
In an ideal world, you should start getting your dog used to the noises of fireworks well in advance of fireworks season, because it will take quite a while! It’s a really good idea to help your dog get used to the noises of fireworks (which we can “desensitization”) and other noises that they may find scary so that they don’t get worried over firework season, and so that you don’t have to worry about them as much!
To do this, first start by downloading the “Sounds Scary” tracks by Dogs Trust (find it here: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets). This is a series of tracks filled with all sorts of sounds and noises that dogs may find worrying if they are not “desensitized” to them, such as traffic, babies crying, and of course – fireworks.
Once you have downloaded these tracks you can start by playing the tracks of your choice very quietly (we suggest starting at Volume 1!) so that your dog can barely hear them. As long as he remains calm, praise him and give him a tasty chew or perhaps a Kong to enjoy.
On the next session, which would ideally be the next day or 2, increase the volume very slightly and give them the Kong or treat to enjoy. You can then repeat this over the course of a few weeks or even months so that the dog becomes used to louder and louder noises. Giving your dog something tasty during these sessions means that your dog will associate the strange noises with something positive and learn to not be worried by them.
It is important that this process is done very gradually so that it doesn’t frighten your dog.
Make sure that you are only increasing the volume in the next session if your dog remained totally calm and relaxed throughout the previous session. If your dog seems at all nervous or worried, you may have gone a little too fast, so go back to a volume that they were relaxed with and start again from there, increasing the volume even more gradually next time.
It may be a bit late this year to desensitize your dog to firework noises, but you can put this into practice for next year. If your dog gets worried by the noises here are some tips for fireworks season that you can put into practice right now.
Helping your dog to cope with fireworks
Give them a safe place
If dogs are frightened they like to take themselves away and hide. Most dogs like a cozy area that is dark, if they use a crate then you can put a blanket over the top of it. If they choose a different area, then allow them to choose a room or area in the house which they can go to if they are worried by the noises.
Block out the noises
Keep your windows and curtains closed to help keep the sound out. Leave the radio and TV on throughout the house so that there are other noises to cover the bangs of the fireworks.
Walk your dog when it is light
Take your dog for their walks before it gets dark so that it is unlikely that any fireworks will go off whilst you are out and startle your dog. Don’t force your dog to go into the garden if they don’t want to. We would also suggest not taking your dogs to fireworks displays; these are busy places with lots of people and when the display is on, the bangs will be very loud for your dog. They then can’t get away from the noise, bright lights and the smell of the fireworks.
Keep your dog safe
Keep your dog on a lead, so that they can’t run away and possibly injure themselves or get lost if they are startled. Make sure your house is secured so that they can’t accidentally get out into the garden and make sure your garden is secured so if they are outside, they don’t get frightened and bolt.
Give them something to do
Give your dog toys or puzzle toys that they can play with in their safe place. You can play a game with them to keep them busy or do some simple training with them. This will help keep them busy and distracted.
If your dog is happy to take themselves off then leave them to do this, but if they are seeking reassurance from you then do give them some! If your dog is looking for reassurance or comfort in this time, give it to them! You will be helping your dog as they are looking for comfort from you.
Remember, remember your dogs this November...
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