Does your dog get anxious on Bonfire Night?

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With firework season getting closer, dog owners will be asking how do I keep my dog calm and stop them being scared? There are many ways to help our four legged friends, with simply preparation you can take the stress and anxiety away from fireworks.

What signs to look that show anxiety in dogs;

For noise anxiety, Dogs will show many symptoms of fear and stress including shaking, panting, drooling, yawning, barking/whining, hyperactivity, eliminating indoors, clawing, digging, hiding, and clinging to owners.

How to help stop/prevent anxiety and stress?

One way is a Thundershirt, the shirt’s gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or over-excited. Based on surveys completed by over two thousand customers, over 80% of dogs show significant improvement in symptoms when using Thundershirt.
As for why Thundershirt’s gentle pressure works to calm a dog, experts such as Dr. Temple Grandin believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system. Using pressure to relieve anxiety has been a common practice for years. Before the anticipated fireworks display is the best time to put your Thundershirt on your dog, prior to your dog becoming scared and anxious; but, it is fine to put the Thundershirt on AFTER your dog has become anxious, as you will still see good results.

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Don’t spoil your dog and try not to over fuss, if your dog is suffering from anxiety, whilst the fireworks are going off, using positive reinforcement methods, don’t say: are you alright? Poor baby, good girl etc, these are words that will help reinforce the behaviour and let the dog know that it is okay to be scared when there are fireworks. They will think that they will get rewarded if they show any signs of fear.

Dogs have many ways of dealing with being fearful, In most cases, when it comes to Fireworks, they just want to hide until it goes away. Therefore if you create a nice cosy den in the corner of the room you are in, then they can feel safe. This can be under a chair with blankets over the top of it, in an actual dog cage, under the table. Put their favourite toy and perhaps even a filled Kong in it to.

Do a lot of mental and physical exercise during the day before it gets dark. If you have a well balanced dog that is happy mentally and physically, they can cope more easily when the noise anxiety kicks in. Take them for a long walk, hide toys in bushes for them to sniff out, play agility, do some obedience training – anything that will relax them ready for the night before.

Try to drown out the firework noise by shutting the curtains, play loud music (well not too loud, Dogs have sensitive ears) and distracting them with games and treats indoors.

If all else fails, then you could look at the number of herbal remedies on the market, these include herbal tablets, plug in diffusers and calming sprays, most take a few days to be most effective, they don’t work in a matter of seconds so if you need any of these products preparation is key, make sure you have and use them 24/48 hours in advance.

Have a happy and safe Bonfire Night!

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