Top tips to keep dogs calm during Halloween and Bonfire Night

We’re approaching that spooky time of year when things go bump in the night, closely followed by loud bangs for Guy Fawkes. While it’s great fun for us humans some dogs aren’t so keen.

Every year so many dogs get stressed by the sound of fireworks and spooky visitors knocking on the front door. In fact, an anxiety or phobia to the sound of fireworks is a very common behavioural problem in dogs.

There are many signs of a sound phobia including

  • repeatedly hiding or attempting to hide or escape, 
  • pacing,
  • circling or acting restless,
  • rolling over,
  • grooming excessively, panting,
  • yawning and licking lips excessively,
  • drooling or vocalising.

If you recognise any of these signs don’t worry, there are things you can do to help keep your dog calm and reduce the intensity of his fears.

Top 10 tips to keep your dog calm

  1. Noise phobic dogs should not be taken to firework displays in the hope they’ll get used to it. This never works and will only cause immense stress.
  2. Modify or remove the sound of fireworks by teaching your dog to wear ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones, such as Mutt Muffs.
  3. Play competing noise from the TV/radio or using white noise might be helpful in some cases.
  4. Close the doors and windows. Make sure all blinds, shutters, and curtains are shut during a firework event.
  5. Don’t use punishment or shout. This only makes dogs more anxious/reactive and they may even react aggressively.
  6. Create a safe haven for your dog. This is simply an area with your dog’s blanket or cushion and one or two familiar toys. Feed him in this little hide away haven and offer treats while he’s in his safe place.
  7. Medication shouldn’t be a first choice, but your vet may prescribe anxiolytic medication to aid treatment and minimise your dog’s suffering.
  8. Try an Anxiety Wrap. While there is no scientific evidence to show that Anxiety Wraps work, wearing one won’t harm your dog if you have taught him to accept wearing it. Stay with him while he wears it to ensure he doesn’t over heat.
  9. Try to be home or have someone stay with your dog during a firework event. It helps some dogs to hold them firmly and lean into them. Do release him if he struggles.
  10. Play desensitising CDs of firework sounds. Essentially this helps get your dog used to the sound of fireworks from a CD played at a volume which doesn’t provoke a full blown fearful or panic reaction.

Above all else try to keep your dog calm and happy in his warm home during the Halloween and Bonfire Night period.

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