Bonfire Night is an exciting celebration for many, but this isn’t necessarily the case for many dog owners. The whooshes, fizzes, and bangs can cause a lot of stress to our canines. Being a responsible pawrent, you’ll want to protect your pup as much as possible on this night to avoid injuries or a panicked escape.
Expert dog behaviourist Philippa Short has given you some essential tips on how to keep your dog calm on Bonfire Night.
Exercising your dog on a daily basis is a key part of their health and wellbeing, and something they often look forward to (so much so we have to spell it out as W-A-L-K-I-E-S). So, how do you give them their outdoor time while also keeping them safe around Bonfire Night? Do things slightly dif-fur-rently.
It’s not advisable for your dog to be outside during fireworks displays, so try mixing up your pup’s walking routine. If you take your dog for a walk earlier on in the day, make it a longer one. This may help tire out your canine and allow you to shorten their evening walk. Bear in mind that some fireworks displays for children start earlier, so take an earlier evening walk and aim to be back home between 4 – 4.15 pm at the latest.
Philippa recommends avoiding a few different things when it comes to canine care on Bonfire Night:
✔ Walking your dog at night, as there are new smells and sounds, and bigger crowds of people than normal.
✔ Leaving dogs unattended in the garden. When toileting or exercising at night, make sure your dog is on a lead.
✔ Forcing hugs, unless your dog makes it known that they need comforting. Hugging them if they’re calm could make them think there’s something to worry about, and hugging them when stressed could make them feel constricted in their movement and breathing.
✔ Flooding, a technique that forces your dog to face their fear. This may cause your dog a great deal of suffering and could actually make their fear worse.
Creating a safe space for your dog on Bonfire Night may work wonders for helping them feel less stressed. The goal is for your dog to not even notice that anything is happening outside, so there are things you can do inside to help with that:
There are a few options out there that could also help to keep your dog calm. These include:
General exercise that your canine goes barking mad for may help to burn off excess energy before the fireworks begin. We’re talking long walks, playing hide and seek around the house, doing agility training, or a classic game of tug of war.
You could also give your dog a special massage known as Tellington Touch. There are particular ways to censor your dog’s nervous system to calm them down and settle their body into a relaxed state. Doing this may mean they are so at ease that fireworks do not bother them.
If your dog is calm enough, you can massage them during fireworks, but it’s best not to touch them if they’re too stressed.
✔ Talk to them as normal.
✔ Have the TV on and turn the volume up higher than normal.
✔ Play games with them to distract from any noises. Puzzle toys which use treats as incentives are a great distraction.
✔ Chew toys which state that they are long-lasting, just monitor your dog carefully and discard the toy when it shows signs of damage.
✔ If your dog isn’t too stressed, try positive reinforcement. Have a bowl of high-value food such as chicken or cheese pieces and when a firework goes off, say ‘yay’ and give them apiece.
✔ You could try and desensitise your dog to fireworks before Bonfire Night using CDs or video clips online. Play these very quietly to start and slowly increase volume over time, but never above more than they’re visibly comfortable with.
If your dog is distressed on Bonfire Night, remain calm. Being over-sensitive to your dog can make them sense your stress. It’s important to keep your dog away from the fireworks, so if you’re wanting to have a display in your garden, see if it can be done elsewhere. If not, send your dog to a friend’s house where they feel safe, familiar, and they’re away from any triggers.
It’s essential that your dog’s microchip information is up to date on the database, so that should the worst happen and they do escape, they can be reunited with you as soon as possible.
Raise a paw if you want your dog to be happy and healthy! We do too, which is why we offer flexible lifetime dog insurance.