Dogs and fireworks: Keeping things calm on Bonfire Night As the firework season approaches with Bonfire Night looming, while many humans are excited about the season, the loud bangs and flashes can be very traumatic for dogs and other family pets. Although the 5th November is usually the loudest in the calendar, it’s also worth bearing in mind that this year the date falls on a Monday, so it’s possible that we’ll see Bonfire parties from the Friday before. Looking further ahead, New Year’s Eve has also now become synonymous with firework celebrations taking place. So, how can we help our four-legged friends get through this and why do you need to start planning now? How can I help my dog cope with fireworks and Bonfire Night? In the run up to the loudest night of the year we thought we’d put together a few hints and tips to help you and your dog weather the storm of flashes and crashes that we experience each year during bonfire night and other festive periods. If you know your dog has a phobia, rather than just generally worry around these noises we would advise that you seek more specialised advice from your vet or a suitably qualified behaviourist. Create a safe space for your dog to relax. Somewhere were they can retreat to if they need to – and if it smells of your latest unwashed fleece, slippers or cardi, all the better. Be on hand to provide comfort and reassurance. It’s ok to let them communicate their worry with you. If you remain calm this may help your dog. Try to keep to routine as much as you can. Take daytime walks before it gets dark. Play their favourite tunes on the TV or radio to distract them from the tirade of outdoor noise. Close windows and curtains to shut out flashes and to help muffle the noise. Ask your neighbours if they are having fireworks so that you’re prepared if they’re close to home. Make sure there’s water on hand for your dog to drink as sometimes nervous dogs will pant more and become thirsty. If you do need to answer the door during the evening make sure your dog is in a room that they can’t suddenly escape and run out the door. Providing a long lasting really tasty treat such as a filled Kong may keep their mind busy. For dogs with generalised noise sensitivity you could work to acclimatise your dog over a period of time before the Big Bang evening by introducing them to loud noises but in a controlled manner. There are CDs and downloads available to buy to help with this. However, if your dog is noise phobic we not recommend you do this, and would advise you to seek further advice and support from your vet or a suitably qualified behaviourist. Sometimes using relaxing aroma’s in your home like Lavender can aid relaxation and there are medications and remedies available to help to relax your dog but we would recommend that you speak to your vet before using these, especially if your dog has a medical condition, and always make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Each of our centres has specially trained staff who can give advice and guidance on setting up a safe space for your dog during firework season.