What? I hear you cry. Fireworks season is ages away from now! But...and it is two massive buts, sitting next to each other comparing the size of their butts... if you want your dog to cope better with fireworks then now is exactly the time to think about it. Or if you live in the U.S. then you've just had the 4th of July and I am led to believe that fireworks are all the rage at that time and so you know how well your dog coped and whether you should be doing something about it for next year.
Anyway, this is all irrelevant to the purposes of this blog which is to put a picture-a-day up and which you will have noticed that I have been failing to do.
And in the process of working on my handout I thought I would draw a picture of a dog having fun. I asked Professor Google for a picture of a dog having fun and the Prof gave me this...
It is all too confusing.
However, if you want advice on how to deal with fireworks and how to prepare your dog for fireworks - here is the current version of it. Please feel free to comment and tell me if I'm giving terrible advice!
What to do before fireworks night
· The best thing you can do is help your dog to be less afraid of loud noises. We recommend using a sound therapy pack like the one provided for free by Zylkene.
This website has full instructions and will take 10-15 minutes daily for about 2 months. If it is less than 2 months before the fireworks period starting the sound therapy may not help and may make your dog more anxious. So it would be best to start no later than September 1st.
Using an Adaptil diffuser or Adaptil tablets may make this process easier for your dog.
9 out of 10 dogs will show less anxiety following sound therapy. Using it can make fireworks night a much more pleasant experience for both you and your dog!
· In the weeks leading up to fireworks season provide your dog with somewhere it can feel safe. This should be in a quiet room in the house and your dog should feel in control, so don’t force it into the area or interfere with it when it is in there. Train the dog to associate the area with positive experiences – provide a variety of toys which you swap regularly so they don’t become boring, and provide healthy treats and praise when your dog uses the area. Over time your dog should learn that this place is safe and a pleasant place to be. When the fireworks happen your dog can choose to go to this area where it feels safe and is more able to cope. Your dog should have access to this area at all times, even when you aren’t at home. Having a safe haven in advance of fireworks night is a really important way for your dog to cope with anxiety.
What to do on fireworks nights
· Take your dog out for a walk well before the fireworks are due to start.
· Close any windows, curtains and exterior doors.
· Don’t force your dog into its safe area but make sure there are treats and toys for it there.
· Play music or watch the television – but try to avoid music or films with bangs or explosions!
· Ignore the fireworks noises yourself. Do normal things. Don’t force your dog to play. Imagine how annoyed you might feel if you were feeling anxious and somebody kept saying, “Cheer up and play Monopoly with me!” Even if you normally like Monopoly!
· Don’t seek out your dog to comfort or reassure them, even though it’s tempting – they will feel your anxiety and so their fear will be rewarded and encouraged. However if your dog comes to you, then talking to them and reassuring them is fine – withdrawing attention from an anxious dog is likely to make them feel worse. Once the fireworks night is over you can work on helping them become more self-reliant.
· DON’T PUNISH THEM! It isn’t their fault they’re scared and telling them off just adds to their anxiety.