Bonfire Night 2022: Dogs Trust issue advice on how to keep your pets safe and calm during fireworks

Top tips to keep your pet safe and sound as amid the loud bangs and bright flashes of fireworks.
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With firework season set to whizz-pop into our lives again as Bonfire Night approaches, Dogs Trust Merseyside has issued advice to dog owners whose pets are scared of fireworks.

Noise-related fear is very common for our four-legged friends of all ages and can significantly impact their well-being. Almost half (49%) of owners reported their dogs showing signs of fear or anxiety in response to loud, unpredictable noises like fireworks, thunderstorms and bangs.

The charity says that the time to prepare your dog is right now. Leaving it until the night to try and relax your dog is likely to be too late.

Advice for dog owners

Dogs Trust senior canine behaviour officer Charlotte Huggins said: “What you can do is try and find out when local displays are in your area so you can plan to have a cosy night in and stay with your dog. You can also check out online groups or speak to neighbours to try and find out if they’re planning to let off any fireworks. Then you want to make sure the house and garden are secure to prevent escape.”

“What else can be helped is closing the curtains, turning the lights on and turning the TV’s volume up because that’s going to help mask some of the sounds and block out flashes. You also want to consider your routine, so potentially walking your dog earlier in the day so they’ve got the opportunity to exercise and toilet before it gets dark, so you can get back before fireworks begin.”

Top tips to keep pets safe and calm during fireworks

  • Walk your dog before dark – make sure your dog is well exercised and has had a toilet break before the fireworks begin.
  • Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as they may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
  • Make sure your house and garden are secure during the fireworks as fear may make your dog try to escape.
  • Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start – if your dog is in familiar safe surroundings it will help them cope with the noise.
  • Provide a safe hiding place – make sure your dog has somewhere safe in their favourite room, perhaps under a table. Make a den for them with blankets or a comfy bed.
  • Close curtains, turn lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out firework noises and flashing lights.

Ms Huggins added: "When the fireworks are actually happening, you want to, as much as possible, stay calm yourself. It's important to recognise your individual dog'ss needs. They all respond differently to fireworks. Some will want to take themselves away, hide and take themselves to a safe space, in which case, let them. Others might try to seek reassurance from you, in which case, that's absolutely fine to give them that reassurance."

For dogs who are less worried about fireworks, you can get their favourite toys ready to play together during your cosy night in. Experiment with different enrichment in the run-up to fireworks to find out what treats, games and puzzles your dog enjoys the most.

Prescribed medication

If you are inceasingly concerned about your dog's behaviour or you're spotting signs of fear or anxiety, then it's best to speak to your vet as soon as possible for further advice. They can check your dog is in good health.

Ms Huggins said: “They can refer you to an accredited behaviourist, and they may be able to suggest a prescribed medication to help your dog cope. So, there's lots owners can do to try and help their dogs through the season."

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