Top tips from Certified Animal Behaviourist and Founder of Barket Place, Caroline Wilkinson.
Firework season is approaching! With so many of our dogs experiencing some level of fear or anxiety around this time, it pays to get prepared.
Support for Your Phobic Dog
For those dogs with more severe phobias, start by adding our Scullcap & Valerian Tablets a month in advance of those first bangs. While it’s never too late to add them into your dog’s firework prep, giving them a 4-week build up time will be the most effective. These natural supplements will help your dog to feel more relaxed, without unnecessary sedation.
Setting Up a Calm Environment
Setting up a calm, relaxed space for your dog to retreat to if they feel panicked is also best done in advance. It means your dog can familiarise themselves with the environment and start to spend time there – creating a calm response to this new den-like zone. Either fill a nook in your home with extra blankets or set up a crate (leaving the door open) for your dog to be able to seek refuge in. Then on a daily basis, hide some treats in there so that your dog finds them each time they explore this space.
The Week Before
In the week leading up to the fireworks starting, start to vary your dog’s routine so they get used to walks being taken earlier in the day. Focus their daily activities on calmer behaviours – take walks promoting sniffing opportunities by visiting woods or scattering food grass, or add in more mental enrichment through food toys and training.
Once the Fireworks Begin
When the big day arrives, have a schedule prepped in advance. This can include:
- Starting your day with an early, relaxed walk and feeding their meals before darkness.
- Close your curtains early too, before dusk to prevent them seeing any of the explosions – and turn your TV on or a white noise machine, with the volume up loud.
- Add in our Valerian Compound (alongside their daily Skullcap & Valerian tablets) – either on your dog’s dinner or placing the drops onto a cloth on their bed for them to inhale.
- Provide chewing opportunities (tasty filled food toys or long-lasting chews) but don’t panic if your dog can’t commit to eating food once the fireworks begin.
- Never leave a stressed dog alone – if you need to go out, ask a friend or family member to spend some time with them.
- Allow your dog the choice between interacting with you or seeking space in their den area.
- If your dog wants to spend time with you – you can try to promote a happier energy by playing with them or throwing a treat for them to chase every time a bang occurs. But they might also prefer feeling your calm touch with a snuggle session on the sofa.
It can be heart-breaking to see your dog distressed, but by following the above tips you’ll be helping your dog to feel better supported. While we can’t resolve anxiety overnight – by combining our natural supplementation with a calm environment and your physical presence, your dog will be at a much lower stress level. The easier our dogs find the whole experience, the more quickly they’ll bounce back to their usual relaxed stated once the firework season ends.
Written by Caroline Wilkinson, Certified Animal Behaviourist & qualified dog trainer