Take the Fear Out of Fireworks!

When the ubiquitous explosions and flashes of light start well before 5th November your pet may dive for cover or cower behind the sofa.

Fireworks can unsettle a dog or cat’s mental wellbeing and nobody likes to see their pet in a frightened state. No need to despair though, you can prepare pets by getting them accustomed to the sounds of bonfire night.

Why not follow our tips and take the stress out of the celebrations?

Desensitisation
If possible, make time now to get your dog or cat used to the sounds of firework displays, known as desensitisation.
• Find a recording of fireworks on YouTube
• Play the file at the lowest audible volume level a few times per day
• If he’s relaxed and not fearful, pair the sound of the fireworks with things your cat or dog likes, such as treats, meals, cuddles, or games
• Slowly begin to raise the volume over the course of several days, and continue to pair the sound of fireworks with things your pet enjoys
• If your cat or dog begins to show signs of fear, turn the volume down to a point where he feels more comfortable.

Repeat this several times each day until your pet can hear the sounds of the fireworks at a fairly high volume without becoming fearful.  If this method doesn’t do the trick, there are a few other things you can try which may help.

Keep Calm
Try not to get anxious or tense even if you anticipate your pet may get distressed. It might never happen and dogs especially look to their owner as a pack leader. They follow your emotional lead, so if you’re less than happy, your dog will pick up on this negativity.

If your pet does become fearful, just ignore it. It might be difficult when they appear to be suffering, but paying them extra attention or soothing them when they show a fear response will only make it more likely to reoccur, as you’re rewarding their behaviour.

Shut out & distract
Closing windows and curtains will completely shut out or, at worse, reduce the sights and sounds of the fireworks outside, while playing games and background music might be enough to take your pet’s mind away from what’s happening elsewhere

Give them a hideout
Make sure your pet has somewhere to hide if he wants to, and ensure he has access to this place at all times. This could be under a bed or in a cupboard. Keep pets safe and secure so they can’t escape if there is a sudden bang or pop. Check they are tagged and chipped.

Two for the canines…
Taking your dog on a nice, long walk will tire them out physically and mentally, making them much less likely to be interested in what’s going on around them during the evening. A large meal, loaded with carbohydrates, such as plain rice or pasta, will also make some dogs feel lethargic.

…and two for the felines
Block off the cat flap and don’t try and tempt your cat out of hiding, as he will likely become more stressed. A den made of your old clothes, cushions or blankets might bring comfort to your feline.

Here’s hoping you and all our four-legged friends have the best of bonfire nights!

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