When Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes and John Wright first decided to assassinate King James I of England on November 5th 1605, they would have undoubtedly been surprised to find out that over four centuries later, the British public were still celebrating their failure through the purchase and subsequent launching of miniature explosives every year.
For the majority of people, Bonfire Night is an exciting evening of partying, eating, and spectacular sights and sounds. However, behind the revelry, it’s important to remember that not all British inhabitants are as keen on the festivities as we are.
For many dogs, November 5th is the worst night of the year. With loud explosions, flashing lights and cheering, it’s often too much for their insecure nature and sensitive ears – so as an owner, it’s important to know how to keep your dog safe on Bonfire Night and find a way to limit the level of stress it brings them.
Do your research
Learning how to keep your dog safe on Bonfire Night is often a lot easier when you know the schedule for all the festivities in your area. Knowing the times that local councils and businesses are planning their firework displays can help you to make the right preparations and not be caught off-guard.
Fill the day with exercise
The fear your dog feels during firework displays is often elevated by the high levels of energy left in their system. If you’re able to treat them to an extra walk during the day or simply walk them for longer, they’ll be more inclined to relax during the evening and possibly be more willing to ignore sounds that would normally frighten them.
When dogs are scared, they often lose their appetite. If your pooch tends to eat later in the evening, try serving their dinner a little earlier to ensure that they’re nourished, regardless of the stressful evening ahead.
Create a safe space
With all the bangs and whistles of fireworks, it’s almost impossible to drown-out the sounds of Bonfire Night completely. As a result, it’s more than likely that your dog will still feel the onset of a panic attack, and when dogs are scared, they search for a quiet place to retreat to until the event is over. To make things easier for them, prepare a quiet corner of the house with plenty of blankets where they can hide.
Pump up the volume
Ever thought about fighting ‘fire with fire’ when deciding how to keep your dog safe on Bonfire Night? Thanks to the proliferation of home entertainment over the last 50 years, dogs have become accustomed to the strange sounds that emanate from our televisions and radios. For many dogs, the sound of fireworks from a set of speakers is easy to ignore in the context of a broadcast, so playing a movie or television show with the volume up high can often help obscure the real-world sounds that would normally scare them.
Close off the outside world
Make sure that you keep all the windows and doors in your house shut, as well as closing all curtains and blinds. While this may not shield your pup from the noises completely, it can help to dull the potentially unsettling sounds from around your neighbourhood.
We all know that humans enjoy hugging a blanket or teddy for comfort, but in recent years, many owners have resorted to wrapping their dogs in scarfs and other attire in an effort to help them feel more secure when they are stressed - without hindering movement. Many owners have reported fantastic results with this method, so it may well be worth a try.
Don’t give them a reason to feel stressed
Dogs often monitor our facial expressions and body language for emotional cues. Some owners worry so much about Bonfire Night that their dogs can work themselves into a state of panic simply by watching them panic. The more relaxed you act around your pup, the more likely they are to believe that there is no reason to stress.
If all else fails…
Despite all your best efforts, some dogs are just more anxious by nature and nothing will work. Luckily, many vets are willing to supply troubled dogs with anti-anxiety medication after a quick consultation. These medications make it easier for your pup to fall asleep, and often help to reduce their emotional reaction to loud intrusive sounds. They may feel a bit groggy in the morning, but most dogs will take a lazy start to the morning over a night of terror every time.
It’s always a great idea to learn how to keep your dog safe on Bonfire Night before the event itself. By taking the right steps, it doesn’t have to become an evening of dread and fear – but even if your dog never manages to completely relax during the festivities, remember that even when they are fearful, the warm feeling they experience from being comforted by their owner and those they love can often work wonders.
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