So by now most of us have finally ceased to mourn the loss of yet another summer and are begrudgingly starting to become acclimatised to the majority of our time being spent in darkness. Some of us may even be starting to embrace the joys that autumn, and the impending winter months will bring, and for dog owners there are so many things for us to embrace; the crisp autumnal walks, with leaves under foot, mists in the morning and the pleasantly peaceful cool winter nights.
Let’s face it we are also excited that it’s now completely acceptable to have our dog walking ‘uniform’ on at all times (the wellies, wax jackets and quite often ridiculous headwear).
Of course bonfire night and the obligatory fireworks are effectively the opening ceremony for the start of this beautiful time of year, and they also set the spark of excitement as we all start the tentative countdown to Christmas, and I say tentatively because yes, we all know it’s too early, but quite frankly – who cares (X Factor is on, and there are mince pies in the shops so that’s the green light for me!) But with all the excitement comes a twinge of concern for many a dog owner as we know that this is not necessarily going to be an easy few days for our dogs (or our worry levels).
Sound sensitivities, including fireworks are very common in dogs. The reaction that it can cause can vary greatly between dogs, and whilst some uncertainty is quite normal, fireworks can be the cause of a great deal of distress for our dogs. Here at The Paw Pack, we have been researching some of the best ways that you can spot for signs of distress in your dog, and also some tips for how you can plan ahead to make firework season more of a ‘walk in the park’.
Most of us know every single one of our dog’s little idiosyncrasies, and can probably tell when something is not quite right but we should all look out for some of the following signs over the coming days:
Making a mess in the house
So what should we do if we are worried about our dogs and how they are coping? The RSPCA have produced some useful guidelines in which they suggest:
Before the fireworks season starts, provide your dog with a ‘safe haven’ or a little den. This needs to be somewhere that they will feel safe and in control. The RSPCA recommends training your dog to associate this as a positive place by leaving toys and swapping the toys around so that they see it as a fun and enjoyable place, but they explain that you should not impose yourself on them in this space. They will hopefully see this is a safe place to go should they get distressed by the fireworks.
Ensure all windows and doors are shut
Close the curtains
Consider distracting them with a toy or chew
Put music or the TV on before the fireworks start in order to mask the sound.
Walk your dog in the early evening when it is still light
Ensure your dog is safe and secure, is microchipped and has an ID tag;
Try to ignore the sounds of fireworks yourself, and try to leave your dog alone unless they may harm themselves
Consider talking to your vet about pheromone diffusers which disperse calming chemicals
The RSPCA also suggest that you may want to talk to your vet about the Sound Scary Therapy pack. More information can be found at www.soundtherapy4pets.co.uk
We hope that some of the above may be helpful over the coming days, but remember that your vet will be the best person to speak to if you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour, or want specific advice on how to cope with the firework season.
The Paw Pack wishes you all a happy, safe and enjoyable toffee apple season!