Dog behaviourist Nick Jones' top tips for looking after your dog on bonfire night - Forthglade
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Dog behaviourist Nick Jones’ top tips for looking after your dog on bonfire night

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With Halloween & Bonfire Night festivities fast approaching, it’s important to consider the impact this will have on our pets. Fireworks can be quite terrifying for our beloved dogs, and for many dog owners the firework season seems to drag on – but we’re here to help!

To give you some top tips for avoiding anxiety and calming your dog this bonfire night, we got in touch with our friend – UK dog behaviourist Nick Jones:

“One common trait that I find when it comes to anxiety, is that owners seem to be giving the ‘wrong kind’ of attention to the dog during these stressful periods; inadvertently reinforcing the dog’s behaviour. This is not particularly a fault of the owner as they are simply doing what humans do best in such circumstances. If this were human-to-human interaction, the reassurance would be understood for what it is, and some solace and reassurance would be taken by it. We are of course not born to understand canine language without reading books or studying their ways; hence this poignant communication gap between dogs and their owners often arises. As we are not able to discuss the matter with the dog, we will need to find other ways of showing that we ourselves are calm in the situation, offering reassurance to the dog.”

Here’s Nick’s top tips for keeping your four-legged friend calm during the firework season:

  • Never walk your dog while fireworks are being let off – if you’re unsure about whether there is likely to be fireworks, err on the site of caution and make sure your dog has plenty of exercise earlier in the day.
  • Plan ahead and make sure your dog is fed before any expected disturbances, as they may become to nervous to eat. Feeding a natural diet free from anything artificial can help to reduce any hyperactive behaviour.
  • Make sure to let your dog out for a comfort break at dusk, before any expected disturbances as it may be a while before it’s safe to let them outside again.
  • Always keep your dog indoors during fireworks, and close all curtains & windows to block out any scary flashes of light and help drown out the noise. Don’t forget to block off any cat flaps to stop your dog (or feline friends) escaping!
  • Turn on on the radio, TV or play music to help drown out the noise of fireworks.
  • Try making a den with old blankets for your dog to hide away in – you can encourage it’s use by hiding treats and toys there, and once they’re inside – don’t try to coax them out. Wherever your dog settles (even if it is under furniture or a pile of old washing), let them be as it’s important for them to feel comfortable.
  • Try to act and behave as normal, as your dog will pick up on any anxious behaviour. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog. Reward calm behaviour with dog treats or playing with toys of interest.
  • Herbal remedies like Skullcap & Valerian or Bach’s Rescue Remedy can help to calm your dog during distress.
  • Make sure your dog is shut safely inside a room if you need to open any external doors to avoid them escaping in fear.

For dogs who are particularly prone to stress you may want to consider:

  • Use a dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) like Adaptil which releases a synthetic pheromone which replicated that produced by the mother after she has given birth. The pheromone reassured newborn puppies and actually calms them down and scientists have discovered that it also helps calm older dogs for a wide range of anxiety related behaviour.
  • You can use a CD to desensitise your dog to typical firework noises. This usually takes a few weeks to see a marked improvement, and is best carried out well in advance for optimum results
  • If your dog is particularly prone to becoming very distressed, have a chat with your vet or dog behaviourist for expert advice.

Our 100% natural grain free calming treats are specifically designed to support a natural, healthy diet and may help to reduce stress or anxiety. We’ve used Camomile & Lemon Balm in our recipe, both known for their natural calming and soothing properties – the perfect treat for helping your four-legged friend through the firework season.

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