Preparing your dog for the Firework season

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15/10/2019 - Dog Training Tips and Tricks

Firework season is fast approaching!!


I'm sure I'm not the only one that dreads this time of year. Unfortunately these days bonfire night isn't restricted to 5th November. Fireworks
can start a week before and carry on for another week after Bonfire night. For some dogs this time of year can be very stressful and difficult.
Here's some tips on how to get your dog through this period and how to prepare a young dog that has never experienced fireworks before.




Exercise
Make sure your dog has a good amount of exercise during the day if possible. Don't take them out at dusk or after dark. Many years ago I came home with my young Labrador and it was just getting dark and a rocket went off in someone's garden just as we were passing by. He'd never had a problem with fireworks before or noises generally but since that day he has been absolutely petrified of them. Keep your dog on a lead during this period. There were several incidents last year of dogs bolting and getting lost as a result of Fireworks being set off earlier in the day.


Enrichment
Make sure you have lots of mental enrichment items pre-prepared for when you need them. For example: stuffed KONGS, long lasting edible chews, KONG wobblers, treats hidden in cardboard boxes etc, etc. Have a look at this Facebook page for more ideas.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1747279312231501/?ref=group_header

Give these to your dogs early evening ideally before the fireworks have started. Chewing helps reduce stress and releases endorphins - helping your dog to cope once the fireworks do start. If your dog is already stressed they are unlikely to take food so timing is important.







Home Environment
Make sure your dog has a safe place to go to. If you have a crate, put a small duvet over it as that can help to block out the noise - just make
sure it's not completely covered so that the air can still circulate. Don't lock them in the crate, just leave the door open so they can go in if they
choose to.Or put their bed somewhere out of the way or under a table. Create a den for them to escape to if they need to. Close all your curtains
to cut out the lights, some dogs react to the flashes rather than the noise. Put some nice relaxing music on or have the TV on. There are some
products about to help calm dogs like Adaptil Diffusers and Valerian Compound.They can help some dogs so it's always worth a try. 



Don't go out!
Don't leave your dog at home to cope on their own. Make sure someone is at home with them over the 2 week period. Don't be afraid to comfort them if they need it. You can't reinforce fear. Imagine you were watching a scary movie would it make you feel more scared if your partner gave your a hug? If they decide to go off to their safe place, then leave them alone but stay near them so they know you are there.



Puppies
If you have a young dog that has never experienced fireworks before, you can start getting them used to the noise before the season starts,
although you don't have much time. Download some firework noise on your phone or computer. Play it at low volume at first and toss some
treats for your puppy to find. Gradually increase the volume whilst feeding your puppy treats. The link below is a really great app that you can
download that has lots of different noises including fireworks that you can get your puppy used to.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sound-proof-puppy-training/id700513321?mt=8

Follow all the advice above for puppies so they don't have a bad experience the first time they hear fireworks.