With Bonfire Night coming up next month, we’ve been reminding ourselves of all the ways we keep our dog calm. I decided to write them down here in case you guys find them useful too.

Orange dog curled up on grey couch scared of fireworks and bonfire night.

Keeping your dog calm

Signs of stress in your dog can sometimes be missed. Watch out for panting, pacing, not wanting to eat, hiding away and generally looking sad and miserable.

1. Walk your dog in the daytime instead of in the evening.

Avoid taking your dog for walks in the evenings around Bonfire Night and instead opt for daylight strolls. Most firework displays happen after dark, (although there are still the occasional wallies that let them off during the day!) and the loud noises may stress and startle your dog and cause them to run, especially if they’re off-lead. 

Try to give your dog a long and stimulating walk during the daytime to tire them out ahead of the evening. If you are unable to do this, contact us and we can walk them for you.

2. Turn on the radio or the TV

Many dogs find that background noise can help disguise the sounds of bonfire night that are happening outside. Try turning the radio or tv up a little to help.

3. Reassure your dog

During this time, your dog may become noisier than normal and may whine and bark at the fireworks outside. It can be frustrating for you but try not to scold them. Try to distract them with a game of find the treat, tug or a game with their favourite toy. If they don’t engage with you, they are too stressed. Don’t force them to play, instead you may want to let them sit with you and just be there for them.

4. Give something to distract them

All dogs love a treat. Why not prepare some frozen treats in advance of the bonfire season the help distract them?

A licky mat with peanut butter (make sure its sugar and palm oil free) works well. You can also fill a Kong with peanut butter and biscuits or if they are raw fed, you can use their dinner. Licking and chewing are natural stress relievers for dogs. The act of licking releases endorphins which help your dog calm down in stressful situations.

5. Make your house safe.

Try and make your house safe for them. You should close all curtains, windows and doors to minimise the sounds from outside. Closing doors and windows also blocks off any exits. Your dog may get so stressed they try to bolt and escape the safety of your home.

6. Keep dogs away from fireworks

Some people believe that they should expose their dogs to fireworks to de-sensitise them from the flashes and bangs. This is generally a bad idea. Unless you know exactly how your dog behaves around fireworks, you are setting your dog, and yourself, up for a stressful experience.

You could try playing firework noises on an Alexa device to see how they cope. While trying this, I suggest giving lots of treats so they associate firework sounds with something good…food!

7. Act normal

Dogs are very in-tune with our feelings. If you are feeling anxious and nervous about bonfire night and how your dog will react, chances are, your dog will sense this and will feel it too. Try and carry on as normal as possible with the day while implementing as many of the points above as you can. If you are confident and relaxed, this will hopefully affect your dogs mood as well. 🙂

Useful Links

A great local place to buy licky mats and natural chews is Pet shack Deli on Rimrose Road, Bootle. Next door to Go Outdoors.

Its a great shop with really helpful staff. https://www.facebook.com/petshackpetdeli/

The RSPCA has some great tips for looking after your pets during halloween too. Check them out here… https://www.rspca.org.uk/-/31_10_18_fright_night_halloween_tips