Party Season and Anxious Dogs!

Dog firework anxiety – it’s real!

Party Season and Anxious dogs and cats go together! Yes sadly this is a real thing and many pet parents in the lead up to Halloween (which is scarily just round the corner), Guy Fawkes Night and the Christmas and New Year party season, will be starting to think about their pets, who suffer with anxiety which is  triggered by loud bangs, flashing lights.

Fireworks Night is one of the year’s biggest events. Village firework displays. Friends gathering together as they whoop and cheer at the big bangs and flashing lights. And while the tradition of celebrating Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night and New Year’s Eve may be fun for us, for some pets it can be a night of terror induced anxiety.

Hiding behind sofas or crawling under the bed to protect themselves are just a couple of the ways they have found to cope with it. Barking, shaking, drooling, panting, putting their tail between their legs and even aggressive behaviour are also signs that they are trying to deal with their fear.

In this blog we provide you with some Top Tips for helping your dog cope with the sound of fireworks and the anxiety caused by those loud explosions and extravagant light shows and gathering of people as they celebrate at parties.

No 1: Keep your dog inside and establish a safe place

Avoid letting your dog out when the fireworks start. We know that this is often easier said than done, especially as there seem to be fireworks going off almost every night for at least a week around Guy Fawkes Night – like a mini fireworks season. But now is the time to start making slight adjustments to your dog’s routine. For instance, you might need to bring their evening walk and mealtime forward a little so that it doesn’t clash with the local display.

It’s also a good idea to create a safe place in the house. A cage or a table draped with a cloth make great retreats for your dog. But don’t lock them in – let them pace, or snuggle up to you, or hide under the sofa. Whatever makes them feel safe.

No 2: Don’t change your behaviour

Dogs are perceptive. They will notice if your behaviour changes and this could add to their anxiety. Don’t be overly attentive. Don’t overly fuss. It’s okay to cuddle them and stroke them if that helps them relax, but above all, simply stay calm and carry on as you would usually do. And certainly, don’t get frustrated with them if they are acting strangely as this could make them even more anxious. 

Remember, this is their idea of hell, so if they can see that fireworks have no effect on you, it may alleviate their anxiety. They just need to be reassured that they are in a safe space.

No 3: Muffle the sound

There are a number of ways to muffle the sound and reduce the impact of what’s going on outside. Close the curtains and the leave the lights on inside. Not only does this help with the loud noises, but it means your dog won’t be able to see the flashes of light quite so easily.

And why not pop the television on, or the radio, and turn it up a little louder than usual? Maybe now would be a good time to do the hoovering. Essentially, any tactic to reduce the sound will go some way to minimising your dog’s fears.

No 4: Secure the garden

First of all, make sure all the doors and windows are securely closed. If possible, don’t let your dog have access to any rooms which have doors leading to the outside. And let everybody in the house know how important it is to be extra vigilant with when it comes to opening and closing doors. In the event that your dog does make a run for it, it’s important to secure any potential escape routes in your garden.

Make sure your dog is microchipped and that the details are up to date. If your beloved pet does bolt out of the front door, being microchipped makes it a lot easier for you to be reunited. As does a clear telephone number on the collar tag.

No 5: Take their mind of the fireworks

Keeping your dog busy can take their mind off what’s going on outside. Now would be a good time to play some games or embark on a few reward-based training exercises. If it’s a little late to be teaching your dog new tricks, a toy stuffed with treats could work wonders and keep them occupied for a while.

We hope that this helps you with your dog during the fireworks. It seems that whatever the celebration – bonfire night, New Year’s Eve, weddings, birthdays, even the fourth of July – we want fireworks, so these top tips should help your dog feel safe and secure.

We do offer a range of calming products designed to help your dog with anxiety, or if your dog remains anxious, it may be sensible to consult a vet or a qualified behaviourist.

It’s also worth mentioning that it’s not just dogs that are scared of fireworks. Most animals will be left feeling scared when the loud bangs and flashing light shows begin. And while we’re not saying you should bring all your pets into the house, some of these tips can be adapted to stop them feeling quite so scared.

About the author

My Pet HQ is a Morpeth based Pet Shop which specialises in quality, raw pet foods and pet accessories for your furry friends. Establish by Caroline and Diane Coppen in 2015 to provide pet mums and dads with the best products and advice on pet health, nutrition and wellness. The My Pet HQ blog is a knowledge centre where you can find anything out about pet care and if you are still unsure Caroline and Diane and their team of experts are always on hand to help. Just give us a call to talk all things pets!

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