Tuesday July 25th 2017

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How To Help A Dog That’s Scared Of Fireworks

As Bonfire Night approaches, people will be busy buying sparklers, catherine wheels and firecrackers and looking forward to an evening of excitement with their friends and family. The one thing that may be forgotten however, is the dog.

Don’t forget about the dog In the run-up to November 5th, the Kennel Club is urging dog owners across the country to ensure their four-legged friends are not overlooked, and remain safe and sound. Fireworks create loud bangs and flashes which may be exciting for humans but can be utterly terrifying for dogs.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Communications Director, said, “At this time of year it is crucial for dog owners to remember that their canine counterparts are particularly vulnerable, as fireworks can be very scary for dogs due to their acute sense of hearing.

“Fireworks can strike dogs with a sense of terror, which can lead to injury. Not only are fireworks and bonfires particularly dangerous to dogs themselves, but the fear they cause can make a dog behave out of character, such as chewing themselves, and may increase the risk of a dog bolting and running out in to traffic.

“It is advisable for dog owners to keep their dog safe inside the house and to create a stress-free environment where the dog can retreat to. Desensitising dogs to the loud noises beforehand is also recommended, and there are many good specialist CDs which can be bought online to help dogs gradually become used to the noise caused by fireworks as Bonfire Night approaches.

“Speaking to a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor about any potential behavioural issues that may arise around this time of year is recommended, as they are experts in the field and can offer invaluable advice which will help to safeguard the health and happiness of your dog.”

The Kennel Club has put together some steps that can be taken to minimise a dog’s levels of stress and make things more bearable on the night:

Do:

  • Acclimatise your dog to noises prior to the big night. There are many noise CDs on the market which give you the opportunity to introduce your dog to a variety of potentially disturbing noises in a controlled manner.
  • Make a safe den for your dog to retreat to if he or she feels scared. Alternatively, let your dog take refuge under furniture and include an old, unwashed piece of clothing like a woolly jumper so that your dog can smell your scent and feel comfortable.
  • Distract your dog from the noise by having the TV or the radio switched on.
  • Try to act and behave as normal, as your dog will pick up on any odd behaviour. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog. Reward calm behaviour with doggie treats or playing with toys of interest.
  • Check where and when displays are being held in your local area.  Also ask your neighbours to let you know if they are planning anything.
  • Consult your vet if your dog has any health problems or is taking any medication before giving remedies to help him cope with fireworks night, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Seek help from an experienced animal behaviour counsellor if your pet is severely phobic. Kennel Club Accredited Instructors are experienced in different aspects of dog training and behaviour. To find a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor in your area visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/kcai
  • Feed your dog well before you expect any disturbances, as once the fireworks start your dog may be too anxious to eat.
  • Walk your dog before dusk.  It may be some time before it’s safe to venture outside again for your dog to relieve himself.
  • Make sure you shut all doors and windows in your home and don’t forget to draw the curtains. This will block out any scary flashes of light and reduce the noise level of fireworks. Don’t forget to block off cat flaps to stop dogs (and cats!) escaping.
  • Shut your dog safely inside a room before opening the front door.
  • Keep a collar and ID tag on your dog, just in case they do accidentally escape. Make sure your dog is microchipped too, as if he or she does escape without a collar on this will ensure you are reunited as quickly as possible. For further information visit .

Don’t

  • Take your dog to a firework display, even if your dog does not bark or whimper, don’t assume he or she is happy. Excessive yawning and panting can indicate that your dog is stressed.
  • Tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off.
  • Assume your garden is escape proof.  If your dog needs to go out keep him on a lead, just in case.
  • Leave your dog on his or her own or in a separate room from you.
  • Try to force your dog to face his fears – he’ll just become more frightened.
  • Forget to top up the water bowl.  Anxious dogs pant more and get thirsty.
  • Change routines more than necessary, as this can be stressful for some dogs.
  • Try and comfort your dog if they become distressed, as this may make the behaviour worse.
  • Try and tempt them out if they do retreat, as this may cause more stress.

 

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