How To Calm Your Westie On Bonfire Night

Posted by Beatrice Stewart on

Fireworks Frighten Animals

Fireworks are enjoyed year-round by people but can be a source of fear for many animals, especially when bonfire night comes around in the UK. (5th Nov)

It doesn’t have to be that way though, so don’t ignore the problem. Seek advice from your vet who will if necessary; be able to refer you to a professional clinical animal behaviorist. You can also follow our top tips to make firework celebrations less frightening for your pet.

Keeping Westies And Other Animals Secure

  • Make sure your dog always has somewhere to hide if he or she wants to and has access to this place at all times. For example this could be under some furniture or in a cupboard.
  • During bonfire night and the weekends around it, walk dogs during daylight hours and keep your Westie indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off.
  • At nightfall close windows and curtains and put on music to mask and muffle the sound of fireworks.
  • It's fine to comfort your pet if it helps them relax, or leave them alone unless you think they will harm themselves.
  • Never punish your pets when they're scared as this will only makes things worse in the long run.
  • Make sure your dog is always kept in a safe and secure environment and can’t escape if there’s a sudden noise. Have your pet microchipped in case they do escape.

Planning Ahead Before Bonfire Night

Planning ahead can help your dog cope with fireworks. Talk to your vet about pheromone diffusers. These disperse calming chemicals into the room and may be a good option for your dog, in some cases your vet may even prescribe medication. If either of these options is used they should be used in conjunction with behavioral therapy. We would recommend asking your vet to refer you to a clinical animal behaviorist.

Before the firework season starts provide your dog with a doggy safe haven, this should be a quiet area so choose one of the quietist rooms in your home. It should be a place where the animal feels it is in control, so don't interfere with it when it's in that area. Train your dog to associate the area with positive experiences eg. by leaving toys there but not imposing yourself at any time.

Use a variety of toys and swap them regularly, putting them away when not in use so that your dog doesn't become bored with them. With time your dog can learn that this place is safe and enjoyable. So when fireworks happen it may choose to go here because it knows that when it is here, no harm will come to it and so it's more able to cope.

Play indoors

It is important that your dog has access to its doggy safe haven at all times even when you’re not at home.

When The Fireworks Start

  • Close any windows and black out the ‘doggy play area’ to remove any extra problems caused by flashing lights.
  • Each evening before the fireworks begin, move your dog to the play area and provide toys and other things that they enjoy. Make sure that there are things for you to do too so that your dog isn't left alone.
  • Ignore the firework noises yourself. Play with a toy to see if your dog wants to join in, but don’t force them to play.
  • If you know a dog that isn't scared by noises and which gets on well with your dog, then keeping the two together during the evenings may help your dog to realise that there’s no need to be afraid.

Sounds Scary – for dogs

In the long term your dog needs to learn to be less afraid of loud noises. With proper treatment this is possible so that the next firework season will be less stressful for you and your dog.

We recommend Sounds Scary, an easy to follow therapy pack for dogs which includes a specially made set of high quality sound recordings and an easy to follow guide. The amount of training needed will vary from dog to dog so owners should start training with the Sounds Scary pack well in advance of firework seasons.

Visit HERE for more information.

 


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