Its estimated that 45% of dogs in the UK show some kind of fear or anxiety when they hear fireworks.
Deservedly so in my books, they are loud, screachy, smelly and bright. Just think what a dog with senses 10 times better than ours is hearing, smelling and sensing when these go off.
However there are ways to help relieve the stress in our four-legged companions and make the time of the year nice for all.
NEVER at any point cuddle when your pet is cowering in a corner – the message you are transmitting is that “its ok to be afraid so carry on doing it”. If they want to sit in a corner, let them.
Turn the tv, radio, anything up loud to drown out the noise a bit.
Shut the curtains to reduce the flashing lights coming in. Dogs will react to different aspects of the firework.
Act normal. Have dinner, watch your tv programmes, laugh out loud to them, give them dinner as normal even if they dont want it, this is the best way to get your dog through the night as he wont suspect anything is up.
If you know your dog is bad then a few weeks before you can begin playing fireworks on Youtube or get a Noise CD for dogs including firework sounds. Begin to play them on a low volume to ensure the dog is ok with it. Then crank it up a notch. Carry on doing this until the dog’s behaviour doesnt change throughout the volumes. Other than maybe a slight tilt of the head.
There is also a calming plug-in called ADAPTIL you can use. It has harnessed the calming hormone the mothers give off when feeding the pups milk. The plug-in needs to be up a week before so the hormone can perculate around the room and do its job effectively come Firework night.
Cats on the other hand. Try and keep them in as they have Fight or Flight thats heavily weighted towards Flight when scared. So to reduce traffic collisions or getting stuck up a tree please for their sake keep them safe inside.
Let them do their own thing, cats know what they are doing, many know they are safe inside and will find a bedroom and go to sleep. For those that hide leave them be, dont force them out. Cats find where they think they are safest and hunker down until the threat is over.
There is a plug-in for cats as well if you want to help or have indoor cats that are particularly bad. FELIWAY is a feline facial pheromones used by cats to mark their territory boundaries. This behaviour is performed by any cat and provides reassurance.
I hope this has helped and given you some help towards Firework Night
Alex Tourret BSc