Staff at Dogs Trust Glasgow are getting ready to help petrified pooches cope this November as fireworks screech and soar into the night sky.
As thousands of families head off to enjoy the annual displays, dog owners are preparing for one of the most stressful times of year and the charity is hoping its tips will help the dogs in their care such as nine-year-old crossbreed Dotty, as well as dogs throughout the region, stay as relaxed as possible during fireworks season.
Sandra Lawton, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Glasgow, says: “Dogs don’t understand that fireworks are part of our celebrations, for them they are sudden, unpredictable, bright and very loud so it’s not surprising that so many become scared.
“We do our best every day of the year to keep our dogs relaxed but it’s particularly difficult when fireworks start, so it’s important to understand each dog so we know how to help them the best we can.
“Our canine carers do all they can, finding out what works best to help each dog cope. For some this might be building dens where they feel safe or playing classical music to mask the sounds, or being with people.”
The charity says that although a fear of fireworks is very common in dogs, their reactions can vary.
Some might want to hide and if that’s the case the charity recommends creating a safe enclosed area, a ‘den’, in the home where they can retreat to. Others will go to their owners for reassurance and will benefit from sitting close by and having a stroke or a cuddle – whatever they are used to and enjoy.
When it comes to Dotty, they have found listening to music and spending extra time with her favourite two-legged friend helps.
Sandra Lawton says: “She is a gorgeous girl but is definitely not a lover of loud noises so we’re making sure she has had lots of mental and physical exercise so she’s as relaxed as possible, we play music when she is in her kennel to help mask the sounds and we also make sure a member of staff stays with her.”
As fireworks are let off in neighbourhoods, not just at publicised public displays that can be prepared for, the charity advise that whilst there is a risk of them being set off:
Walk your dog only in daylight hours, perhaps skipping the evening walk and doing additional play and training inside.
Try not to leave your dog alone when there is a risk of fireworks.
Close the curtains and leave the TV or radio on.
Seek advice from your vet - dogs with severe fears can be prescribed medication to reduce anxiety.
If your dog comes to you for reassurance during fireworks, it is fine to give them attention for now, but you need to teach him or her a different way of coping in the future, to avoid him or her being much more scared if fireworks go off when you’re not at home.
If you have a confident canine who doesn’t appear to be concerned by fireworks, it’s still a good idea to engage them in activities like simple training involving their favourite toy or treat, or perhaps give them a food activity toy to keep them distracted from the loud noises.
Plan ahead for next year! If your dog is frightened then start teaching them that fireworks noises are nothing to be scared of by gradually associating the noise with something nice. You can do this by introducing them to the Sounds Scary programme available to download on the Dogs Trust website.
Sandra says: “We really hope these tips help dog lovers get their dogs through what can be a distressing time for so many dogs, and owners. By the time the fireworks have faded away, we’re really hoping Dotty has found that special someone who will give her the forever home she deserves.”
To find out more about how to keep your dog relaxed during fireworks season go to www.dogstrust.org.uk and take a look at our video showing how to build a den for your dog here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y_gJ1f0EhE