10 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe on Bonfire Night
Bonfire night is a dreaded night for many pet owners.
The sensory overload for your dogs can cause a multitude of problems. It can often lead to days of anxiety, messed up eating habits and refusal to engage with walks and exercise.
Although bonfire night is hardly going to be your dog’s favourite night of the year, there are numerous small changes you can make to ensure the night is as comfortable as possible for your companion.
There are many clear signs that your dog is distressed, which can be particularly prominent on bonfire night. These signs include:
- Shaking and trembling
- Refusing to eat
- Pacing and panting
- Cowering and hiding, attempting to reach places in the home they usually would not
- Soiling or having accidents in the house
Play the Long Game
It is no quick fix, but giving your pet exposure to loud sounds can help on overwhelming nights such as bonfire night.
Playing the sounds of fireworks or thunderstorms, initially on a low volume, will help your pet get used to loud sounds that they otherwise would not have heard. You need to be extremely careful to gradually build up the sounds to prevent overwhelming your pet.
This is a long term solution, which can greatly help your pets tolerance to loud sounds.
Consider Your Own Energy
Dogs feed off our energy and emotions. If they feel that you are anxious about the night, they probably will be too. Try to remain calm and follow their lead as much as possible. If you can keep the night to as similar as possible to any other night, it will help relax any pets you have in the home.
Allow your dog to cuddle you if they should wish and enjoy some time relaxing together.
Keep Them Inside
Although it might sound obvious, many dog owners simply leave the back door open or even use a dog flap. This gives their dog independence to use the garden as they please and reduces the chances of accidents happening in the home. Some owners even choose to have kennels outside, where the dog will happily spend most of their time.
However, on bonfire night it is important that you keep a close eye on your pet and keep them indoors as much as possible. Even if the noise does not seem too loud near your home, a single loud bang can spook your pets and leave you with days of anxiety to deal with.
Use Other Sounds to Distract
Using other sounds, such as the television or radio can be great if the fireworks are not too loud. The familiar noises of the home will help them feel relaxed and hopefully help block out some of the explosions.
There are many playlists across all popular streaming platforms catering specifically for soothing nervous dogs.
Another distraction tactic is to use their favourite toy and involve them in a game inside the house. This will help with tiring them out as well as providing a distraction.
Shift Everything Earlier
On bonfire night, it is important that you both feed and walk your dog earlier than you usually would. This is because once the fireworks start, it is likely your dog will begin to feel anxious and will be reluctant to go outside. They may then not get the opportunity to relieve themselves after dinner.
Anxiety can also often put dogs off their food, which may result in them missing their evening meal altogether.
Additionally, a long walk before the fireworks begin will hopefully tire them out and result in a more peaceful sleep that night.
Calming supplements may be a worthwhile investment if your dog displays particularly anxious tendencies, especially around bonfire night. They can be added at mealtimes in the lead up to bonfire night to reduce the stress that your dog endures.
Create a Safe Haven
It is important to create a safe den in the home where your dog feels protected.
Create this den a while before bonfire night and encourage the dog inside as regularly as you can, rewarding them for doing so, yet making them feel as relaxed as possible.
If possible, make the den somewhere in the centre of the home, away from doors and windows. This will limit the amount of noise the dog can hear. Using a large crate is ideal and cover with blankets to allow an extra level of noise protection.
Having a safe place to take refuge will work wonders for calming their nerves.
Invest in an Anxiety Coat
There is evidence to show that dogs find gentle pressure soothing, and it can help with anxiety, especially on hectic nights such as bonfire night. You can purchase shirts, coats and even head wraps that apply a small amount of constant pressure to your dog.
Give Them Space
It may be that your pet hides themselves away from the rest of the household out of fear of the strange noises. It is important not to try to force the dog out from the safe space they have created. This will only increase anxiety and massively decrease the chances of the dog settling down.
Black out the windows
It is not only the loud sounds that spook our dogs but the intense flashes of light also. Drawing the curtains and using blackout blinds in the room your dog will be in, is a great simple way to shield them from the light.
Seek Professional Help
Dog phobias are very real.
If you suspect your dog has moved past anxiety and has a clear phobia of the loud noises then it may be time to seek professional help. Your vet should be able to put you in touch with an animal behaviourist in your local area.
Anxiety in dogs can present a huge array of problems, not only on bonfire night.