When I was a kid I loved Bonfire Night, I loved fireworks and sparklers and checking the bonfire for hedgehogs. Our street always did our own fireworks display in a local horse paddock (sans horses obviously).
Now though Bonfire Night, New Years Eve and lots of other random evenings are spent trying to ignore Apple while she shakes uncontrollably at my feet. This sounds cruel but beyond giving her a safe place to hide and trying to distract her, I don’t have a lot of choice. Cuddling her or reassuring her in a human way would reinforce the idea that there’s something to be afraid of and I hope that with lots of work, she will one day learn that there’s no reason to be scared.
To help your dog or other furry friend cope with Fireworks season wherever you may be in the world, follow these straight-forward tips:
- Give your pet somewhere safe and quiet that they can retreat to if they are scared. This could be a crate or a den that you create in the living room if your pet’s crate is usually kept somewhere else.
- Avoid walking dogs after dark. Some people start setting off fireworks at 5:30 pm when the light has barely disappeared from the sky! Aim for no later than 3 pm in the UK if you can.
- Close all windows and curtains.
- Ensure your pet is microchipped in case they escape in their panic.
- Put the TV on or play music to cover the noise of the fireworks as best you can.
- Ignore the fireworks yourself, this will encourage your pet to think that there is no reason to be scared.
- Seek help from a behaviour therapist if your pet appears to have a serious phobia of fireworks.
- Let dogs out into the garden after dark without a lead. This is not the time to discover that your garden isn’t escape proof.
- Force your pet to come out of the hiding place, if they feel safe and they aren’t in any danger, leave them be.
- Try to “de-sensitise” your dog to fireworks by exposing them to a display. Any attempts at behaviour modification should only be done under the supervision of a trained professional.
- Take your pet to a fireworks display, even if they seem fine, they are most likely not enjoying it. Leave them safely at home.