WIZZ! BANG! POP!

by Lizzie Ashton // November 2017

WIZZ! BANG! POP!

The nights are getting shorter and the roads are covered with those familiar autumnal colours. It’s my favourite season of the year. However autumn also marks the start of firework season which may be fun for us but maybe not so much for our pets. This blog is to give you a few hints and tips on management and how to help you dogs through this season.

If you own a dog that gets themselves a little worried about fireworks, then the best thing you can do for short-term management is reduce the impact. Stay at home with your dog, this means you can be there to reassure them. Dogs can run away when scared so keeping them in the safety of your home will remove the risk of this. Preparation is far better than reacting once the fireworks have started so if you are able to turn up the radio or your TV before they start, this should help to drown out the noise. Keep the curtains closed and keep your dog in the quietest part of your home.

It’s likely that your dog will seek hiding places if they’re feeling worried so providing them with a comfortable den can help enable this coping strategy. Chose somewhere they would normally choose to relax but which lends itself well to creating a comfortable space – maybe use their crate? It needs to be snug and using thick blankets can help make an area extra comfy but also works well as an added protection to muffle out sounds. If your dog doesn’t have a crate maybe try under the kitchen table, stairs or bed. If your dog is choosing to hide then ensure they’re safe and comfortable, offer reassurance but do not try and encourage them out until they feel comfortable enough to do so. If your dog is seeking reassurance its fine to give it to them in a calm manner, ignoring a worried dog can make them even more worried because our own behaviour has then altered too!

Each dog is an individual and for some dogs distraction may be a successful way of relaxing them when worried. It’s important to note that this is likely to be more successful for those with only a mild fear. If your dog is motivated to play then this can be a great distraction. Alternatively using food to distract your dog can help e.g. a food chase game.

There are actions we can take to help reduce noise fears in dogs but this begins working with our dogs when the are fully relaxed. You don’t solve your own worry about spiders by sitting in a room full of them and it’s the same for our dogs! If you have a dog with a fear of loud noises or fireworks then we’d advise you to seek the advice from a qualified behaviourist who can help devise a specific training programme for your dogs needs.

We can help point you in the right direction so please call us on 01273 466 977 for more information. Classes can work as a great confidence builder for those with a mild worry as we incorporate using a sound CD into our classes. For more information please call Sussex Dog School on the number stated above or email us at SussexDogSchool@dogstrust.org.uk

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