Bonfire Night might be great fun for us humans, but it’s not always the case for our furry friends.
Many dogs are terrified of the loud bangs and flashes that accompany fireworks, but often it’s our own behaviour which can unwittingly make things worse.
When a dog shows signs of fear such as shaking, panting or hiding, the last thing we should do is cuddle and soothe them as the dog then interprets this as us saying, “That’s right, be scared, well done!” Our soft voice and stroking simply reward the behaviour so the dog thinks that’s the right thing to do. Also, our hugging is seen as there is safety in numbers and we are as scared as the pet.
Instead, we should remain very ‘matter of fact’ and speak in a normal, if not slightly happy voice, as if there is nothing out of the ordinary going on. There are also a number of things we can do to help:
Turn up the TV or radio on a fairly bland channel, to help disguise the noise outside.
If your dog wants to hide, create a small ‘den’ by placing a cover over a table, or allowing him/her to go behind the sofa etc.
Consider giving your dog some Bachs Rescue Remedy which you can find in most chemists. It Is preserved in alcohol, but the tiny bit shouldn’t be a problem and if you’re concerned about that, you can buy a dog version online, or speak with your vet in case of any interactions with regular medication.
Using the homeopathic remedy Phosphorus has now been proven to help with dogs showing a fear of loud noises. You can purchase this online (it comes in two strengths and I’d recommend the 6c) and you should place a couple of the tablets between your dog’s lower inner cheek and gum to allow them to touch the mucous membrane.
The phosphorus tablets can’t be placed in food and should be given at least an hour away from mealtimes. If they fall out of the dog’s mouth after a short time, that’s fine as they are sugar pills coated in the remedy so should still work. I’d suggest you start these around a week before Bonfire Night so they’re in the system.
Prevention is better than cure….
If you want to prevent your dog being concerned at the noise, it’s a good idea to start work on it as soon as possible.
Record the sound of fireworks (or check out Youtube for something), and play this on a low volume whilst the dog is either eating or playing happily.
Gradually increase the volume over several days, but if the dog starts to be concerned, lower the sound and then start the process again. Remember not to soothe if he/she looks worried, but just act normal.
If you need any further help and would like a consultation, please get in touch.
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