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Fireworks – A Survival Guide
Fireworks can be a real problem for some dogs and if you find yourself with one of these dogs, the earlier you start a well-structured and veterinary supported behaviour modification plan, the better.
But what can you do if you have left it a little too late?
  • Speak to your vet as they will advise you about the appropriate medications to help your dog.
  • Comforting your dog after the fireworks start will do no harm and may well help. It certainly will not intensify the fear, as some people may believe, so if you wish to help your dog by allowing them to be close to you, please do.
  • Provide your dog with somewhere safe to hide by creating a ‘doggy den’. Identify somewhere where your dog likes to be and feels safe. This could be a place they already retreat to in times of stress, or their crate. In an ideal world, this would be as far away from windows or openings as can be practically managed.
  • Next, furnish it with comfortable bedding and cover it with multiple layers or something like a duvet. This will help make your dog feel safe and deaden the noise a little.
  • Build strong positive associations with this place allowing the dog to come and go at will, play fun games around the area of the den and use super nice treats by leaving them in the den for the dog to find. This needs to be done over several weeks prior to the event, but better to start late than never at all.
  • Walk your dog before it gets dark if you can, if not, walk in the early morning and miss the evening for a time. Consider hiring a dog walker for a few weeks to exercise your dog during the daylight hours, if you cannot do so yourself.
  • When you expect fireworks, check that all possible openings are secure and that your dog cannot escape from your property. Make sure they have identifiable tags and microchips.
  • Make sure the room is well lit to try and counter the effect of flashes, (especially if you cannot be away from a window) and try to cover any windows to prevent flashes and soften the noise.
  • Put on the radio or TV at a volume that will help mask out the noise; practise this before the night so that moving the dog to a safe den/room, bright lights and loud radio, do not become associated with a chain of events leading to the bangs.
  • Provide new and novel toys as distractions, food stuffed chew toys can help distract a dog that is not too stressed. It is highly unlikely though that your dog will take food if it is frightened, but worth doing to help those not suffering so extremely.
  • If your dog hides away elsewhere, do not pull it from its place of safety, unless it is in imminent danger.
  • There are other non-prescription products that can help support your plan. Consider using body wraps, that gently ‘hug’ and calm your dog, specially developed music CDs and herbal scent-diffusers.
  • You will also find a range of calming preparations, liquids and tablets available which use a variety of ingredients which may help to calm a dog in stressful situations. These are generally available from good pet shops and veterinary practices.
  • Finally, please, please DO NOT PUNISH YOUR DOG for being frightened, as this can only make things worse.
Should you want help with a behaviour modification plan, contact Puppy Stars and we will get one of our expert Behaviour Counsellors to help you.
For more details visit www.puppystars.co.uk or call 07542 131400.
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