With Fireworks season soon approaching, it’s important that we take the necessary steps to help our furry friends stay calm. Whilst it may be great fun for us, as humans, our dogs generally don’t share the same enthusiasm. Here are a few tips to help keep your pet safe during the Fireworks season. This blog post is in partnership with Zylkene.
1. Desensitise. If you know that your dog is anxious around fireworks or loud sounds, then desensitising can work really well, as they become familiar with hearing the sounds. There are various clips on YouTube, containing firework sound effects, which can be used, such as this one. Start by playing the sounds quietly in the background, at a volume where your dog doesn’t react negatively to it. Slowly, over a period of at least a week or so, increase the volume. Aim for 2 or 3 short training sessions a day. Remember, this only works if you expose your dog to the sounds gradually. It’s not an instant fix & if you don’t take things at the dogs pace then you may cause more fear issues.
2. Prepare a ‘Safe Place’. If your dog already has a crate, then perfect. They already have somewhere sheltered where they’ll feel safe and secure. If your dog doesn’t have a crate- does your dog have a ‘safe place’ where they naturally go to when they’re anxious? This is where they will feel most comfortable. It may not necessarily be their bed, as they more than likely will hide under something which has overhead cover, for example under a table or behind the sofa. Find where you’re going to put your “safe space” (make sure it’s in a place where your dog feels happy & that the can stand up, lie down, turn around and stretch out in it) and set it up a few days before the firework displays are happening. This gives them time to get used to it, as an anxious dog may react negatively to a new set up in the house (in a similar way cats become anxious when they see their cat carrier!). Allow the dog to come and go freely from the newly set up safe place, as it will allow them to become comfortable with it. Make the space cosy & ensure there is overhead cover, it’s like childhood den making with your dog!. Fill it with blankets, toys & something which smells strongly of you. A worn t-shirt is a great option!
3. Calming Remedies. Zylkene is a complementary feed for cats and dogs which contains a natural product, derived from casein, a protein in milk. Casein is a molecule well known to promote the relaxation of newborns after breastfeeding. Zylkene has become a popular product for pet owners to use in helping pets cope when facing unusual and unpredictable situations. Start by giving the recommended dose 2 to 3 days before the fireworks are going to start occurring, and continue to give the right dosage daily, until the firework season has finished. You can easily split the capsules & pour the powder on to your dog’s food, so there’s no worry about having to give your dog a tablet and cause more stress. Zylkene is available to buy online and from Pets at Home.
4. Tiring them out. On the day of the firework display, take your dog for a big, long walk mid afternoon in an attempt to tire them out a little bit. If they’re tired they’re more likely to sleep through the sounds of the firework displays. Wear them out as much as possible, playing chase or fetch- whatever you choose they’ll have a whale of a time!
5. Prepare the house. Close all the windows & curtains (especially the ones in the room where your dog will be staying), turn on a few lamps/turn the lights on low & put the TV or radio on at normal volume level (you want it to be loud enough to disguise the firework sounds, but not too loud to scare your dog). Do this a few hours before the fireworks are due to start, as this will allow your dog time to settle. Make sure, where possible, that you shut your dog in another room if you’re going through a door which leads outside. An anxious dog can become erratic and may try to escape. Their natural “flight” reaction is run away from perceived “danger” as quickly as possible. As a precautionary measure, ensure your dog is wearing collar with an up to date ID tag attached to it. If you have to leave your dog home alone during the firework period, and there’s nobody around to sit in with the dog, consider getting a Pet Spy Camera or downloading the Dog Monitor App so you can keep on eye on them whilst you’re out. Always make sure that you can leave what you’re doing quickly to return back to your dog should they be showing worrying levels of stress. Remember, even a perfectly behaved dog can become destructive when stressed, so if you are leaving them unattended, don’t leave anything valuable in close reach.
6. Prepare the dog. Feed them slightly earlier than you usually would, to allow the food to pass through their digestive system. This means you’ll be able to take your dog out for a last toilet break, on the lead, just before the fireworks are due to start. It could be another 3/4 hours before the fireworks are due to finish & it also means your dog is less likely to toilet in the house under stress. They’re less likely to throw up too, as their tummies will be more settled. Always ensure that your dog has access to fresh drinking water.
6. Distractions. Keep your dog busy during the peak times. A Guru Road Trip Bone or a Kong stuffed with your dog’s favourite treats will keep their mind distracted and focused on the yummy snack. Have a look at some puzzle toys & brain games for dogs. Keeping them mentally stimulated will help to keep them calm & distracted.
7. Keep Calm. Dogs can pick up on our fears, so it’s important that you stay calm & don’t worry about your dog getting stressed. The calmer you are, they calmer they will be. Likewise, don’t get cross with them if they destroy something or toilet in the house. Understand that this behaviour is stress induced & they haven’t done it to make you cross.
We would like to thank you team at Vetoquinol for sending us some Zylkene goodies to use in this blog post. We hope you’ve picked up some useful tips & that the firework season isn’t too stressful for you & your 4 legged friend. Stay safe & enjoy the fireworks!
E & P x