Whether you are looking forward to heading out into a fresh autumnal night to watch the town bonfire night display, intend to set off fireworks in your garden for new year's eve or have no interest in the spectacle at all, there are guaranteed to be thousands of pets across the world that are suffering for this enjoyment. Here are some tips that you can implement if you have anxious pets in your home.
1. Find out when any organised displays are taking place near you and talk to any neighbours about their plans for letting off any fireworks so that you can be aware of peaks in firework activity.
2. Ensure your pet’s microchip details are up to date. If the worst should happen and your dog slips her collar or your cat takes cover in a quiet shed somewhere, you can be contacted when they are found.
3. Take your dog for his last walk of the day before it gets too dark to reduce the likelihood of any fireworks being set off at that time. If you can, make this his main walk of the day so that he is particularly tired when he arrives home and settles down for the evening.
4. Similarly, feed your dog before you expect any fireworks to begin as anxious dogs are less likely to want to eat, which can add to stress levels.
5. If you let your dog out for a last wee in the garden before you turn in for the night, ensure that this is done on the lead. If a firework goes off nearby, your dog may take fright and run – not necessarily back inside. It is surprising how a terrified animal can escape from what is usually a secure area. Likewise, you may wish to bring your cats indoors in the early evening if you are able to.
6. Create a ‘safe space’ for your pet towards the centre of the house where it will be quieter – a nook under the stairs is a great option. If they are accustomed to a crate, hopefully this is already in a quiet area but you might like to place a blanket over the crate to help dull any noise.
7. Leave a radio on softly (Classic FM is usually a good choice, apparently!). Again, this will help calm your dog and reduce the outside noise.
8. Closing curtains and keeping doors closed, where possible, is helpful as it reduces both the noise and sudden flashes.
9. There is conflicting evidence as to whether you should ignore your dog’s nervous behaviour for fear of reinforcing the anxiety or whether you should offer comfort and support. Personally, I would try to act as upbeat as possible as this will serve as both reassurance and as distraction but also, if it’s what your dog wants them, let him have those extra cuddles. Do not reprimand your dog for displaying any fear or anxiety – you need to be the safe place.
10. If your dog is particularly anxious, you may wish to try a Thundershirt which helps by applying a constant pressure around their torso thus easing anxiety and fear in some dogs. Alternatively, you could try this DIY method that I wrote about…