You MUST Read These Tips For Keeping Your Pup Safe On Bonfire Night!
Bonfire night is on the 5th of November, but its not uncommon for firework season to extend from now until the New Year. The loud and sudden bang of fireworks can make this time of year very frightening for dogs - be sure to read the following advice so you can make your dog feel relaxed and comfortable this winter…
An estimated 45% of dogs show signs of fear when they hear fireworks, so its very important you do everything in your power to prepare your pooch for firework season and know what to do if they become frightened.
Preparation, Preperation, Preperation
Find out when and where local firework displays in your area are being held, and be sure to ask your neighbours whether they are planning any fireworks of their own too. This way you know what to expect and when to expect it, which means you can walk and feed your dog earlier without any nasty surprises. The Kennel Club recommend feeding your dog a while before the first fireworks, as they may be too anxious to eat during the displays.
It’s also absolutely essential that your dog is microchipped and has an ID collar! Petlog, the UK’s biggest database for microchipped pets, received a 40% increase in the number of calls about missing pets on 5th November 2012. If your dog gets frightened they may well use any oppotunity to run away such as an open door or a garden fence, so its important that they can always be traced back to you!
Giving your dog a ‘safe place’ in the run-up to firework season can offer them somewhere to go where they feel more secure and less anxious. If your dog is already crate trained then thats great! But if not, you can easily introduce a den to your dog in the weeks or days leading up to Bonfire Night - a comfortable, private crate with your dogs favourite blanket and toys in is a good start. Give them healthy treats each time they use it, that way your pooch will create a positive association with that space, which will in turn make them feel more at ease if they get spooked.
On The Night
It’s really important to remember that no matter how much preparation you’ve done, your dog is very likely to still be frightened by the loud bang of fireworks. To minimise the amount of noise they hear be sure to shut all doors and windows and draw the curtains (this will block out bright flashes as well). Ensure that your dogs ‘den’ is located in the same room as you will be in most and never put your dog in a room on thier own. Put the TV or radio on - this will distract your dog from the noise and, if you are going out for the evening, get a dogsitter who your dog is familiar with. Most of all, its important to keep to their normal routine as much as possible - if your dog thinks you’re worried as well this will only increase their anxiety.
Even if you think your dog is okay around fireworks, you absolutely should not take them along to a firework display or take them for a walk whilst fireworks are being let off. Dogs can often be very frightened without whimpering or barking (other signs of stress can include yawning or panting) so it’s really difficult to tell whether your pooch is actually happy about being out. The safest course of action is to not expose them to fireworks at all and make sure you have them on a lead if they need to go out to relieve themselves - sudden noises can cause dogs to bolt and your garden may not be as secure as you think it is!
If Your Dog Becomes Frightened…
Usually dogs indicate fear by pacing, whimpering, barking or hiding. It can be distressing for you to see your best pal like this, but its very important that you don’t try to comfort them as it could make their behaviour worse. If your dog is hiding don’t try to coax them out or pick them up, just let them do what they need to do and be around so they can come to you if they wish. Under no circumstances try to make your dog face their fears, they will just become more frightened and could become angry with you. An anxious dog will pant a lot and get more thirsty so don’t forget to top up their water bowl as well!
You can’t stop your dog from being startled by fireworks, but by following the steps above you can make them as comfortable as possible during bonfire night and throughout winter.
General Winter Safety
The days getting shorter and shorter put you and your pooch at more risk on walks and car journeys. Remember if you are driving in snowy conditions to keep a spare blanket, coat and bottle of water in the car for your dog just like you have for yourself so that if you become stranded your four-legged friend doesn’t go without.
On evening walks it’s important to remember that cars and other pedestrians will not be able to see you and your pup as well. To combat this, wear high visibility clothing and take a torch with you. A great way to make your pup visible to road users is through a high visibility lead and collar. ROK Straps, who make comfortable leads and collars with an innovative design to reduce jolting, offer a reflective black lead and matching collar. The 3M reflective stitching picks up street lamps and car headlights - meaning you can relax knowing that you and your dog’s evening walks are much safer.
We have a ROK Straps dog lead and matching collar to give away - for a chance to win simply share this page via our Facebook or Twitter pages. To double your chances comment with a picture of your dog!
Head down to your local shelter and find a canine best pal today!