Are you and your dogs or cats prepared for fireworks night and the fast approaching festive season? Many pets struggle at this time of year with noise sensitivities and subsequently owners can find these annual events quite stressful too. It seems we have more than most
But there is good news, if you can anticipate the event then there are strategies that us pet owners can use to make it go without a bang! Sadly, there are always occasions that we can’t predict, so having a few techniques up your sleeve to alleviate any stresses for your cat or dog during this period is only going to be helpful.
Firstly, we must remember that our canine and feline companions have incredibly good senses, this includes sound, sight and smell.
Fireworks will engage all these senses, as they do for us. We however have the mind- set to understand that these events are generally short-lived and not harmful to us. Our pets do not. Be gentle and reassur- ing, don’t leave your dog at home alone.
Does your dog react to fireworks every year? The unpredictability of fireworks means that unless work is done with your pet prior to the event, they won’t be able to employ a useful coping strategy. You can work on desensitising your dog throughout the year as well, not just in a concentrated effort just before the event. I would recommend you speak to a local dog behaviourist to help you develop a tailored training program for this.
There are 3 reasonable approaches. The first being that you do continued and on-going sound sensitivity work with your dog. Then there are strategies you can implement on the night and thirdly you can utilise the bene- ficial effects of some highly reputed, tried and tested calming products. For example, there are many natural and herbal remedies for dogs and cats that are also suitable for many species including horses and rabbits too.
Be Prepared. On the night keep your windows and curtains closed, turn the volume up on your TV or radio to reduce the impact of the bangs and provide a safe place or nest for your pet, with blankets and toys and treats.
A crate-trained dog may find the confines of a well-prepared hiding place very reassuring. Finally, use this as an opportunity for play time with your dog, make a fun game that involves their favourite treats and this will distract them from what is happening out- side. This will help to create a more positive association for them and it will also build bonds and trust between them and you.
Written by Nicky Diver-Clarke
Registered Veterinary Nurse