Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bonfire Fright: Keeping dogs safe and happy during firework season


Let's look at the numbers. According to a 2007 survey of 3774 people:

80% of dogs are frightened by fireworks
45% of owners say their dogs are terrified to the point of sedation.

So what is a responsible, concerned dog owner to do during the season of bonfires and sparklers? Dogs Trust has produced a quick reference guide to help calm and protect man's best friend.

Dogs Trust Firework Code:

* Don’t leave your dog alone in the house – he may panic and injure himself.

* Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start – if your dog is in familiar safe surroundings it will help him cope with the noise.

* Walk your dog before dark – make sure your dog is well exercised and has relieved himself before the fireworks begin.

* Keep your dog busy – play games or enjoy some reward-based training to keep his mind off the noises.

* Be careful not to reward your dog for reacting to noise – if he’s upset giving him attention may inadvertently reward him for being afraid. It may be better to act as if there’s nothing to worry about.

* Provide a safe hiding place – at noisy times around Bonfire Night, make sure your dog has somewhere safe to hide in his favourite room. Close the curtains and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out the firework noises.

* Seek advice from your vet – They will be happy to help. You can also ask about DAP – Dog Appeasing Pheromone, a scent that can comfort your dog and help him cope with his fears. Be sure to give the medication prescribed before the noise begins.

* Never force a dog outside when fireworks are being let off, and even if your dog enjoys Bonfire Night, never let him off his lead outdoors when fireworks are being let off.


Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Chris Laurence comments:
“Some dogs seem to be more sensitive to noise than others, but many dogs are very upset by fireworks. The more a dog is frightened by noise, the worse a noise phobia is likely to become so it is important to minimise the problem. Taking up the actions in the check list will help dogs cope.”

If you have any extra helpful tips on helping dogs cope during the fireworks, please do add them to the comments.

[Image source: mandj98 on Flickr]

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