Most of us remember, remember the fifth of November as a time for warm hats, mulled wine and sparkling fireworks.But for dogs , Bonfire Night continues to be one of the most terrifying times of the year.
Already this month, concerned owners have started sharing pictures and videos of their dogs shaking with fear in their homes.
While one woman is calling for a review of firework rules after her 18-week-old puppy died from a heart attack due to the noise .
The animals have a more acute sense of hearing than humans, and so perceive every loud bang as a threat.According to the RSPCA, roughly 45% of dogs show signs of fear when they hear fireworks – so what can you do to keep them calm?
Take them for a walk earlier in the day
It’s best to avoid taking your dog for a walk after dark, as most fireworks get started around 6pm.
Taking them for a longer walk than usual may also help them feel more drowsy and relaxed once the loud bangs begin.
Muffle the sound of fireworks
An inexpensive and easy summer treat for dogs: Cut up apples in chicken broth and freeze in an ice cube tray.
The RSPCA recommends closing the windows, doors and curtains in your house to block out the sound of fireworks.
Putting on music or the TV is also a good way to cover up the noise.
Owners could also opt to buy ear muffs for their pets.
Create a safe space
It’s important to make sure your pets have somewhere to hide during the fireworks, for example under furniture or in a cupboard.
The animal should be able to easily access the area at all times.
Bonfire Night 2019: Turn up the TV or music to help drown out the bangs (Image: GETTY)Gemma Cunningham, Campaign and Communications Manager at pet supplement manufacturers Lintbells, said: “Many dog owners are calling for a change around firework laws, with over 60 percent calling for an outright ban on unlicensed fireworks, according to the study we conducted, with 96 percent believing that the laws around fireworks should be changed.
Once they’re in their safe space, it’s recommended that owners don’t try to coax them out, as this could add to their stress.
Train your dog to have a ‘doggy safe den’
The RSPCA suggests making a ‘doggy den’ in the quietest room of your house, where your pet can feel calm and in control of their surroundings.
It’s crucial the dog associates the den with positive experiences, which owners can do by putting in a comfy bed, lots of toys and a kong full of food.
You can then cover the den with a blanket once the fireworks begin.
Remove pet hair from carpet with a squeegee.
Owners might want to stay with their dog while they’re in the den – but shouldn’t try and force them to interact if they don’t want to.
Don’t react to the fireworks yourself
Keeping calm around fireworks yourself will help your pets relax in return.
Dogs perceive fireworks as a potential threat, so seeing their owner respond without fear can help ease this anxiety.
Don’t punish your pets for being scared
You should never punish your dog for being scared, as it will only make things worse in the long run.
Make sure your dog is in a secure environment
It’s important to make sure your dog can’t bolt from the house if they hear loud noises.
Owners should also ensure their pets are microchipped, just in case they do escape.
Get your dog used to loud noises with sound therapySound Therapy 4 Pets is a free treatment programme which owners can download from Dogs Trust online.
The programme contains a collection of specifically recorded noises which can help get puppies used to loud and unpredictable sounds.
Make sure your pet is in good company. Pets get lonely and depressed just like people do when they spend too much time alone. Cats are generally better on their own, but dogs and especially puppies don’t do well left to their own devices for extended periods of time.
Each treatment has been developed by two veterinary surgeons specialising in pet behavioural therapy.
You can also use the programmes to get your dog ready for crying babies, thunder and noisy traffic.
For more information, visit the RSPCA guidelines here.