Guy Fawkes Night has been celebrated with fireworks blasting and bonfires blazing throughout the United Kingdom for dog years. While the 5th of November is meant for festivities and get-togethers, it’s a night of terror for most of our four-legged companions. Whether your pup is visibly scared of the banging noises or not, we recommend following these tips on how to help keep your pooch calm during this spooky countrywide celebration.
Leave Your Dog Home (and not alone)
Even if your pup has never shown signs of being frightened by fireworks, never bring them out for Bonfire Night festivities (trust us, they won’t have a good time!). With fireworks going off in every direction, you never know when your pooch’s fight-or-flight response may kick in and they run off. Don’t put you or your pup in that stressful, dangerous situation and leave your four-legged friend at home. If you can’t stay home with your pup, ask a friend or family member if they can keep your pooch company.
Exercise During The Day
Since it’s a major no-no to bring your dog out the night of the 5th, we suggest taking your pooch outside during the day to let off some steam (and their pee and poo) before the stressful evening comes around. If you normally feed your pup later in the day, begin gradually feeding them earlier. By the time the 5th comes around, feed them at their new earlier time, then take a long walk, hike or trip to the dog park about an hour later. Stimulating your dog before nightfall, along with making sure all their “business” is taken care of, will make for a tired pooch that is more interested in taking a snooze than listening to the scary sounds outside. If not sleepy, engage your pup with an interactive toy, like a treat-filled Kong.
Make A Safe Space
While it may be inevitable that your pup will be feeling off during Bonfire Night, try to make the space they’ll be staying in as comfortable as possible. We recommend keeping your dog in one room and filling it with items they are already comfortable with, like used blankets and your pup’s favourite chew toys. If your dog doesn’t have this already, create a place where they can “hide”, such as a covered open crate with blankets inside (draping a blanket over any old table works well too!). Close all blinds and curtains in the room to make sure no flashing lights from outside are visible.
Want to know how to make your pup’s safe space feel the most comforting? Include the most important piece of all—you! Your dog will feel significantly better if you stick around with them during this frightening night. Whether your pup wants to stay in their own corner or beside you, desperate for some comforting cuddles, your presence alone will mean a lot to them, especially if you remain calm. Your pup trusts you, so if you’re not stressing it about Bonfire Night, they’re likely to feel a bit more reassured that there’s nothing to worry about too.
Distract Them With Noise
Just like we like to listen to soothing music to ease our stress, so do our pups! Whether it’s classical music or some white noise, there are YouTube videos and radio stations dedicated to creating and airing relaxing music to comfort your pooch during this anxiety-filled night. We also advise pawrents to turn on the TV to drown out the noise of the fireworks. Put on something light or funny, as this will put you in a joyful mood that your pup will pick up on!
We’ve discussed just how powerful our dogs’ noses are, which is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that aromatherapy can work wonders for an anxious pooch! Some popular essential oils to soothe panic and create a sense of calm include lavender, chamomile and valerian. Make sure to use a diffuser so the oil is diluted and not too powerful for your pup (a drop or two in water will do the trick). Try a small amount first to see if your dog reacts positively to it and ensure that whichever oil you use is pooch-friendly (we don’t want a frightened and sick pup!). There are also some blended oils that can be added to your dog’s food that are already approved to be safe for them and effective when used as directed.
Another method for naturally relaxing your pooch is via an anxiety wrap, such as ThunderShirt. When put on properly, these wraps provide maintained, gentle pressure on your pup, making them feel like they’re receiving a constant calming hug. Many pawrents swear by these wraps for relaxing their dogs during firework season. Plus, they’re super stylish, meaning your pooch will be unwinding in fashion. It’s a win-win!
If your pup is so tail-tucked-between-their-legs terrified of fireworks that no natural remedy will help, there is anxiety medicine available that can help calm their nerves. Consult your vet first to discuss your dog’s case and be sure to never self-medicate.
Keep Doors And Windows Shut
Did you know that the number of missing dogs doubles during fireworks season, particularly during Bonfire Night in which fireworks are considered an essential part of the celebration all-night long? If your pooch is sniffing around the garden or backyard and fireworks unexpectedly start nearby, their flight-or-fight response may kick in, with their instinct being to take the former route. With this scary image in mind and knowing that many pawrents have had to endure this heart-breaking event, it is extremely important to make sure all doors and windows of your home are closed when the sun goes down on the 5th. If your pup hasn’t finished going to the loo for the day, keep a pee-pad in the room so your pooch can relieve themself.
If these tips aren’t effective and your pup is still spooked and behaving abnormally, don’t get mad at your pooch! Fireworks are loud for us humans, let alone our pups with super-hearing abilities. Whether they’re barking, howling, pacing, panting or hiding, understand that they are confused by what’s going on outside. Give them cuddles if they approach you and make your home a safe haven away from the scariness. Besides, what better way to spend an evening than in the presence of your best-friend?