Tips to keep your dog calm this Bonfire Night
Are you dreading Bonfire night? and is it just me or does the firework season in general last longer each year? incorporating Halloween, actual Bonfire night, the weekend at either side of Bonfire night and practically every day between Christmas and New Years eve. If you have a nervous dog it can be a nightmare.
Every dog is individual, some cower and quiver whilst some, like mine run towards danger barking her head off in some attempt to protect us all. In the same vain, some dogs will respond better to some methods than others.
Likewise, behaviours can change. Willow’s behaviours towards other dogs has changed, so therefore they could change behaviours when it comes to dealing with fireworks. Puppies, weirdly enough can be easier going here. I can speak from experience that both my dogs were not bothered by fireworks at all as a puppy yet as an adult dog they both were in different ways.
So, what I’m going to cover in this blog is my plan to keep my dog calm this year. I’d love to hear if you tried any of them, or have something else that you’ve found to work
1. Plan your walks to avoid being outside during fireworks
Bonfire night this year falls on a Monday, which for most is a work day. On normal work days Willow gets her morning walk, a lunchtime hour walk with the dog walker and then a tea time walk. I’m fortunate enough to work from home so the evening walk I will move an hour earlier to avoid the fireworks. If I had to be in the office, I would look to have done one of the following things; Flex my hours to start earlier and finish earlier or book a late afternoon walk in with the dog walker/neighbour. Alternatively if none of these are options, you could look to take your dog on as shorter walk as possible and then tire them out in other ways indoors- mental games such as find the biscuit, sit and stay training etc. are more exhausting to them than physical activities and it would be beneficial if you had a sleepy dog.
We also normally take Willow out in the garden for a pre bedtime wee, I’ll have to try time this as best I can in between fireworks. If you have a super nervous dog, you may want to be prepared with puppy pads just in case.
2. Create a safe zone
Does your dog have a favourite spot in the house they like to chill out in? If so, make it even cosier for them. Willow likes to take herself off and lay on the living room floor by the armchair, so I’ll be adding a blanket, a cuddly toy and one of my socks (yes she’s sock obsessed, yes they have to be worn, and yes she carries them around in her mouth crying).
If you have a young dog or puppy and have recently crate trained, That could provide the perfect refuge for them.
Distraction. We would normally have the TV on in the evening anyway, so I’ll make sure it’s no different. If you don’t normally, it would be worth having noise in your house a few nights before too so they get used to it. Radio, TV, music whatever. A little gem of a find I’ve recently discovered is Relax My Dog. The music has really worked for us with separation anxiety, so I’m keen to really give it the ultimate test during fire work season and therefore have it on my ipad in preparation. The music rather than the TV version works better for us, This is the specific version we’ve been listening to on You Tube
4. Holistic Treatments
I’ve tried the plug in things before. For us, they didn’t seem to work and the smelt pretty grim too. I’ve scoured what’s out there in terms of more natural products and settled on this Calm Balm from Wild Dog co. I chose this product as has plenty of essential oils and natural ingredients such as mango butter and passionflower oil.
I took Willow along to a charity Doga class some time ago. Whilst it was a disaster in terms of actually getting any Yoga done, they did actually teach us a quick doggy massage, something I love to do to Willow on the couch. The nearest video I’ve found to what I was taught is this you tube vid.
I’ll be slathering on the balm and giving Willow a nice massage before the fireworks start
4. Modify your own behaviour
Now, this is probably the hardest thing to do, however it’s probably also the most important. Our Dogs pick up on our behaviour and also look to us to condone their actions. If we over comfort when they are scared, they’ll accept that it was worth being scared over. In the days leading up to Bonfire night, I’m going to start randomly giving Willow some treats whilst she is being calm and quiet on the sofa – I’ve given her Lily’s Kitchen bedtime biscuits before and they seem the best ones for this occasion.
If I put a few days effort into this, it won’t seem unusual when I’m giving her treats for being calm on bonfire night. It’s also important to not react to the fireworks yourself, the more you react, the more they will see them as something to be afraid of.
So In summary, I’m going with an early walk, massage, some relaxing music and a nonchalant attitude – is it me or does this also sound like a great night in?