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A Calm and Happy Bonfire Night with Lucy Proctor
Bonfire Night can be a scary time for your dog – but it doesn’t have to be. If you start early, you can ease your dog into a calm and relaxed state, ready for when the bangs start going off. Here are Dog Listener Lucy Proctor’s top tips to prepare your dog:
-CDs. There are a large array of firework CDs to help you acclimatise your dog to deal with fireworks. They are recordings of fireworks being set off and the general idea is to start playing them at a very low volume, kind of background noise amongst the hubbub of family life, then day by day, very slowly increase the volume a little. Don’t run before you can walk – patience is the key here. If you start in early October and do this as a course of daily life, by the time the 5th November is upon us, your dog will barely bat an eyelid when the real fireworks start!
-Herbal Remedies. Try putting between 3 and 6 drops of Bachs Rescue Remedy for Pets (or similar) in your dog’s water bowl in the month leading up to bonfire night. If you have a small dog with a small water bowl, 3 drops should suffice. You can always add one more drop if it’s not making a difference. For a bigger dog with a bigger bowl, add 5 or 6 drops. A month of Rescue Remedy throughout October and continuing through until the fireworks stop blasting off will help take the edge off.
-Be the Leader. If you’ve read my previous blog articles, you’ll notice a running theme! When your dog is scared, it’s very easy to treat your dog like a human child and want to get down on the floor and cuddle them, tell them in a lovely soothing voice that there’s nothing to worry about. By doing this you are actually telling your dog that yes, the fireworks are really really scary, you’re scared, and he should be too. What you need to do is just go about your evening as you would any other night without fireworks. Watch some TV, invite a couple of calm friends over, help the kids with their homework. You get the picture. By going about life as you would normally, you’re physically showing your dog there is nothing to worry about. They will see you not reacting, so should take your lead and settle down. What you also need to make sure is that his favourite hiding places in other rooms are shut off. There’s no point in you “showing” them there’s nothing to worry about if they can’t see you. Set up a cosy corner for them in the room you are going to entertain yourself in and just ignore them, or if they need a “den” type set up, put their bed under the kitchen or coffee table, but it’s vital they can still see you all. You can give them a stuffed Kong or a bone if they’ll take one – just remember to remove it as soon as they lose interest in it. Or if they’re not absolutely petrified and they’ll entertain the idea of a game, then instigate their favourite game with them.
Remember to be safe – don’t let your dog outside when fireworks are nearby, and don’t walk them in areas where displays are going off. Wishing you all a blissful bonfire night!