What was always traditionally on November 5th now seems to drag on well into the new year which can make life a misery for many dogs and their owners.
Here are some ideas to help your dog cope with firework night and beyond.
Create a safe place and build a den for your dog. This can be anything from placing a heavy blanket over a table, dragging the sofa out from against the wall, using a couple of chairs or covering the dogs usual crate with a blanket. Build the den where your dog chooses to go and not where you think it should be. It is important that the dog is not trapped so he must be able to move away from the den should he wish to. One of my dogs chooses to retreat to the under stairs cupboard, so that is made comfortable for him, he will also favour lying next to me on the sofa under some cushions but he is free to choose.
You will probably have to change the dogs routine so he is taken out for a walk and fed earlier than usual. It may mean a longer walk in the morning and just a toilet break in the afternoon as fireworks can often start before it even gets dark. If you have to go out make sure the dog is kept on the lead and as a precaution walk the dog on a harness in case he panics and tries to get away. You will have more control and your dog is unlikely to get loose.
When in the house, close the curtains to help block out some of the noise and the flashing lights. Turn up the radio and TV a little louder than usual but try to act as if nothing is wrong or your dog will pick up on it. Just be there for support but try not to make a fuss or that will just confirm to the dog that there is something to be very concerned about. Dogs pick up on our emotions very quickly so give the impression that everything is okay.
Leading up to the firework season you can give calming herbs in the dogs food such as the Hedgerow Hounds Tranquil blend, but it is advised to start ahead of when the stressful event is due so the herbs are well into the dogs system. The herbal blend also combines well with the flower remedies that are specifically for shock or trauma. Also try some of the calming essential oil blends that are available and place on a piece of cloth near to the dog but not directly onto the dog. And explore any homeopathic remedies such as Aconite for extra support.
Some people have had success playing the CDs that have the sound effects of fireworks on, which are increased in volume very slightly each day. This does take preparation for weeks or in some cases months in advance. Also although it exposes the dog to the noise of fireworks it doesn`t let them experience the vibration that often goes with it.
The Thundershirt is really useful but again it needs a little preparation before there is a very stressful situation in place. Tellington Touch and gentle massage techniques are a valuable addition to the use of the shirt and make it a pleasant experience for the dog.
More information on natural ways to help your dog overcome their fears can be found on the Hedgerow Hounds Facebook page.