by Sascha Cox // October 2017
Research has shown that over half of pet owners report that their dogs suffer from a fear of loud noises. This is a fear that becomes particularly apparent around October time when celebratory Halloween fireworks begin. During this period dogs can get really scared and anxious. Dogs ears are much more sensitive than those of a human, meaning that sounds we may find loud (such as fireworks!) are even louder for them and therefore it is understandable that it is much more distressful for them. There are many ways to help your dog to cope and if you are lucky enough to have a puppy, you can start preparing them straight away. Read on for some tips to help your furry friend through this scary time.
If you have a young puppy, now is the time to introduce loud noises gradually and positively, so that this fear is not carried into adulthood. However, if you have an older dog then you can use the same method. We recommend using a CD such as Sounds Scary (available to download from the Dogs Trust website). This can be played at a very low level over a few weeks, with the volume eventually being played quite loud. Throughout this, you can switch the volume up gradually whilst watching your dog for any signs of fear, if you see any then just turn it back down to a level that doesn’t invoke a reaction. We recommend doing this with a variety of sounds but place an emphasis on firework sounds when coming into the Halloween period so that the sounds don’t take your dog by surprise and cause a phobia to develop.
To walk or not to walk?
It is best to keep your dog inside during firework season as the noise can often spook dogs and cause them to run off even when they usually wouldn’t go very far from you. Take all your walks during the day and provide some enrichment in the evening to exercise/distract your dog! Take some ideas from the below enrichment chart. When going out for toilet breaks, keep your dogs on lead incase they get spooked and try to run away out of fear. It is very important to ensure your dog’s microchip details are up to date and that they are wearing a collar with an up to date identity tag.
Manage the environment!
Setting up your dog’s environment to minimise stress also makes a difference – you can start playing your television or radio early in the evening and gradually turn up the volume so that it will drown out any night time firework sounds. You can draw the curtains to dampen the sound and keep your dog in an area of the house that is away from windows and doors. You can also make your dog a den to hide in as this can provide a sense of security, we recommend using a crate with plenty of bedding inside and a duvet or heavy blanket draped over it to further dampen any noise.
We hope that this goes someway towards reducing both you and your dogs Halloween stress, but if you find that you aren’t having success with any of the methods outlined here, it may be advisable to seek help from a qualified Animal Behaviourist.
You can reach us on 07715 654650 and we are always happy to hear from you! If you wish to undertake some training with your dog, give our team a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.