We are coming up to Fireworks season again and thought it may be useful to provide some top tips, some handy links to more detailed resources and also information on the items we stock in store that can be useful tools which can sometimes help when used alongside appropriate desensitisation training.
It is important to remember that if your dog is severely affected by fireworks it may be beneficial to get in touch with a qualified behaviourist for guidance on a proper desensitisation training programme. It can take time and patience, but if built up slowly and consistently, it can be hugely beneficial in helping your dog feel more relaxed.
OUR FIREWORKS TOP TIPS:
Noise desensitisation - This often needs to be built up in the months ahead of fireworks season but it can be extremely successful if introduced properly. The fantastic dogsandfireworks.com website has a free downloadable fireworks mp3 with full instructions which can be used to help slowly desensitise your dog to the noise of fireworks.
Preparing a snug/den/cubby hole - If your dog is feeling stressed/frightened it can help to create a "safe haven" where they can go to feel snug and secure. If they often lie underneath a table or somewhere else specific then perhaps drape extra blankets around it and make sure their bed is put there and that they get lots of good things when they are in this space. If they use a crate and see this as a positive space then this can be made extra snuggly and secure. Don't try to force them in our out of a space though as this will likely make your dog more stressed.
Noise proof the house as much as possible - When fireworks are due to start turn up the tv/radio, keep all windows closed and draw curtains early.
Walk Routines - Don't forget if you walk your dog after dark that it would be a good idea to get out earlier than normal to make sure you are not out when fireworks go off.
Feeding Routines - Some dogs will not eat if they are extremely stressed so if your dog is nervous of fireworks it would be a good idea to make sure they have eaten before the fireworks start (if they are extremely nervous you may wish to only feed them in the morning as stress can sometimes bring on diaorrhea and a later feed may acerbate the problem).
ID Tags/Microchip info: Try to avoid garden pee breaks during fireworks time, especially if your garden is not escape proof. We would recommend making sure your dog has a collar and up to date ID tag on at all times and that their microchip details are up to date as we often hear of dogs getting spooked on walks or escaping from gardens when let out when fireworks go off.
Keep your dog stimulated - if your dog is not suffering from severe anxiety then keeping them stimulated and occupied during fireworks time. Some training or play can be a good thing as it can help to distract them and give them positive associations with fireworks.
Home alone - If your dog is severely stressed we would recommend trying to ensure that you are home during times that fireworks are being let off until you have suitably built up a desensitisation programme.
Don't change the routine - Try to act and behave as normal, as your dog will pick up on any odd behaviour. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog.
- The dogsandfireworks website
, which has been developed by some top behaviourists, is an extremely useful resource. Not only does it have a free, downloadable mp3 to aid in acclimitising your dog to fireworks sounds in a gradual manner but it also has an extremely comprehensive booklet taking you through the steps to helping your dog be more relaxed during fireworks season in a very detailed manner.
Tools which can aid a desensitisation programme:
At Just Dogs we sell a number of items which can help when used in conjunction with a desensitisation programme. Whilst they can be useful add-ons to a training programme we do not advocate these things to be used as a cure all and, whilst some can help take the edge off the stress, they are usually not enough on their own for dogs suffering from extreme anxiety.
Some of the items we have available are as follows:
- These products contain Dog Appeasing Pheromones which are a synthetic copy of the natural comforting pheromone released by a mother dog to reassure her puppies. Some people notice a dramatic effect on their dogs stress levels but usually these are just useful for taking the edge off and using in conjunction with a training programme. They come as a plug-in, collar or spray depending on the circumstance they are going to be used for. We have all types available in store and via our website http://www.justdogsshop.co.uk/adaptil-diffuser
- Pressure has been used to successfully reduce anxiety for many years for both animals and humans. Examples include parents swaddling infants, veterinarians using squeeze chutes when vaccinating cattle and thousands of people with autism using pressure to relieve persistent anxiety. The patented design of ThunderShirt applies gentle, constant pressure on a dog's torso and this pressure can have a calming affect for most dogs. As above this is unlikely to be a quick fix and instead an aid at taking the edge of the stress. We recommend using Thunder Shirts
as an adjunct to other relevant anxiety-reducing/preventing strategies & positive behavioural training.
Treat dispensing toys
- If your dog is only suffering mild anxiety sometimes distraction and stimulation can be enough to ensure that fear does not take over. We have a wide variety of treat dispensing toys at the shop which can be used to help keep your dog busy. Our best sellers are the Classic Kongs
and the Pickle Pocket from Starmark