Warwickshire charity’s tips for a less stressful fireworks season for dogs and their owners - The Rugby Observer

Warwickshire charity’s tips for a less stressful fireworks season for dogs and their owners

Rugby Editorial 4th Nov, 2023   0

A DOG rehoming charity in Warwickshire is offering tips to help dogs and their owners have a less stressful fireworks season.

With Guy Fawkes’ Night and Diwali on the way, Dogs Trust Kenilworth is issuing advice to owners on how to take care of their canine friends who might be scared by fireworks.

A recent survey revealed one in three dog owners were looking to seek advice around firework-related behaviour.

And a new study by the University of Salford has shown dogs are sensitive to a greater range of firework noise sound than previously thought.

Emma-Jane Thomas, Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Kenilworth, said: “Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than humans, so the loud cracks and bangs of fireworks can often be a terrifying and confusing experience for them.

“Fear of fireworks is worryingly common in dogs of all ages. Fireworks tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright. This combination can be distressing, and it can have a significant and lasting impact on their wellbeing.

“Dogs respond to fireworks in a range of different ways, so it’s crucial to have a clear plan, ahead of time, to help your own dog cope. Some dogs will want to find a cosy hiding place, others will want reassurance.

“There are lots of things dog owners can do to help make fireworks less stressful for their dogs. Simple steps such as providing safe spaces for them to hide or settling them before the fireworks start can make a big difference.

“If your dog does seem worried, it’s worth distracting them with a game or treats to keep their attention away from the noises outside. Owners can visit the Dogs Trust website for top tips on what to do when fireworks have started.

“We would also urge anyone thinking of putting on their own fireworks display to consider the welfare of their four-legged friends and others in the neighbourhood by following our Firework Dog Code.”

She added that the Dogs Trust website has free sound therapy programmes to train puppies to tolerate loud noises.

She said: “If your dog is very worried by fireworks or other loud noises, they might need longer-term treatment. If that is the case, it would be a good idea for owners to have a chat with their vet. They can check there are no underlying health conditions that might be affecting behaviour, and then owners can discuss referral to an accredited behaviourist for support and tailored advice.”

Here are Dogs Trust’s top tips:

  • Stay in with your dog. Dogs may panic if left alone, so having their owner or someone they know and trust for company will help them relax

  • Don’t go out after dark. Make sure your dog is cosy inside and settled well before any fireworks start. They should have a safe space or ‘den’ to retreat to if they choose.

  • Never force a dog outside during fireworks

  • If your dog has shown signs of fear towards fireworks, reach out to your vet for advice, and give the dog any prescribed medication before fireworks start. It might be that vets can prescribe last minute medication to help your dog cope, if necessary

  • Owners should check that their house and garden are escape-proof. Dogs could try to run away if they’re scared so check doors, windows and fences are secure

  • Close curtains, turn on the lights and turn on the television or some music to help block out the outside noise

  • Recognise the needs of the individual dog and let them choose if they want to hide

  • Check on the dog regularly to make sure they are coping. Give them comfort if they are seeking reassurance; leave them if they choose to hide in their ‘den’

  • Try to stay calm and relaxed yourself.

The charity also recommends noting down how your dog reacted during the fireworks and what worked well to help them cope. It also advises returning to a normal routine to help dogs settle down. If they were worried during fireworks, it is a good idea to seek professional help before the next firework season starts.

Dog owners are advised to seek veterinary advice for any concerns. They can check if there are any contributing medical problems, and if necessary, refer to a clinical behaviourist.

Visit https://tinyurl.com/mu2neadp for Dogs Trust’s advice on finding a qualified behaviourist.

Visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/fireworks for more advice about preventing and dealing with dogs’ fear of loud noises.

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