Dogs are far more sensitive to sounds and vibrations than we are, so are understandably scared by fireworks. It is also very hard to get them to understand that we we are letting off small explosive devices to celebrate someone trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, and that this is just for fun.
Until we can get dogs to understand us a bit better the 5 tips below will help you and our pooch have the most enjoyable fireworks night that you can.
A tired dog is a well-behaved dog
This is true for most behavioural problems in dogs. Making sure that they are well exercised and tired will help with dogs becoming anxious and startled. Fireworks are now often let off as soon as it gets to dusk, so try to make sure that you get your dog exercised early enough to avoid the fireworks outside.
Understand how the brain works
Happiness and well-being are not just states of mind, they are chemical states, caused by neurotransmitters, like serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is derived from the amino acid L-Tryptophan, so if a dog does not have enough L-Tryptophan in their diet they will not produce serotonin and will find it hard to relax and be happy. L-Tryptophan is found in meats such as turkey and can be given in supplement form. Pooch & Mutt’s Calm & Relaxed dog food is 45% turkey and also contains supplemental L-Tryptophan. This should ideally be fed in the weeks leading up to situations like fireworks night.
Acclimatisation and association
Dogs brains work by association. If your dog is currently scared of fireworks that means that they have a bad association with them. To solve this you can try to create a positive association. To do this you will need a recording of fireworks noise. You can buy CDs and DVDs or look them up on youtube. Play the recording, starting off at a low volume and building up. When you do this play with your dog, give them their favourite toy, or favourite food and generally make this a pleasurable experience. If you do this enough they will develop a positive association with the fireworks. This takes time but is a great solution.
There are some great natural remedies that will help to keep your dog calm and relaxed, such as chamomile and lavender. You can get supplements with these ingredients included, and you can even give dogs chamomile tea (obviously cold!!). The easiest way to give these ingredients is in specific dog products, such as Pooch & Mutt’s Calm & Relaxed Mini Bone Treats, or Calming Meaty Treats. We would recommend feeding both of these for at least a few days before the event.
Be a good Pooch-Parent
To your dog you are the world, and more importantly the pack leader. Spending time with your dog in stressful situations is the best way to de-stress them. If you know that your dog hates fireworks try to spend fireworks night in with them, and play with them. A scary situation is bad enough, a scary situation without the person that you look to for guidance and security is a hundred times worse.