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Dog daze: Keeping your pet calm on high days and holidays

PUBLISHED: 12:19 23 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:12 20 February 2013

Dog daze: Keeping your pet calm on high days and holidays

Dog daze: Keeping your pet calm on high days and holidays

Keep your dog safe and happy when there are fireworks around with some easy to follow tips from expert Sophia Taylor

Keep your dog safe and happy when there are fireworks around with some easy to follow tips from expert Sophia Taylor

There is no doubt that many dogs are frightened of loud noises and especially the sound of fireworks during November and then again over New Year.
After several emails from Suffolk readers over the past few months, I have decided this month to suggest measures you can take to help keep your dog calm at what can be a scary time of year for many of our canine companions Fireworks Night.
There is no foolproof remedy, to reassuring your pet as the fireworks explode overhead as all dogs have different temperaments. However, the suggestions made here have helped many dog owners to settle their dogs.
Some of the suggestions may also help other pets in the household too.
In cases of extreme fear, veterinary help or that of a canine behaviourist should be sought.

Before the night
1. Desensitise the dog to the sounds of fireworks as early as possible by investing in the Sounds CD which randomly simulates the sounds of fireworks. This can be played quietly and for short periods of time at first and as the weeks go on the volume and the length of time is increased.
2. Distraction: While the CD is playing feed, play games or have a training session with the dog or give him a tasty chew.
3. Create a den as far away from the noises of the fireworks as possible but also near to the dogs regular resting place. However, be flexible, as some dogs have taken to getting into cupboards or curling up in the bath! Work with the dog.
4. Buy the DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) collar or DAP plug in and start using these at least two weeks before the fireworks and the plug in should be kept switched on permanently. The collar is an added extra and can be put on the dog at the same time as you start using the DAP plug. The equivalent for cats is the Feliway plug in. Both are available from your veterinary surgery or on line.

1. Walk the dog before the fireworks begin so you know they have relieved themselves. With cats, make sure there is a litter tray in the house.
2. Feed the dog one hour before the event and as long as the dog is not on a special diet, add some cooked potato or white pasta to the food to help make the dog sleepy and to fill them up.
3. Do a safety check of the house to make sure the dog cannot injure itself if it were to panic, eg, keep away from open fires and glass doors.
4. Bring kennelled dogs into the house. If this is not possible, then place a blanket over the kennel to protect it from seeing the flashes of the fireworks. Remember that a dog has very sensitive hearing and therefore what is a loud noise to us is like a volcano erupting to them! Leave a radio or television on if possible. Bring cats into the house so they are safe.
5. For dogs kept in the house, provide them with a den, eg, a cupboard under the stairs or a crate where they can retreat to.
6. Try and stay home if you know your dog is fearful of fireworks, but, however stressed your dog may be getting DO NOT stroke the dog or talk to it as you are simply praising the fearful behaviour and this will make matters worse. Also do not allow your dog/cat to see you are concerned as they will feed off your anxiousness.
I suggest if owners are feeling concerned then maybe have a glass of wine or whisky themselves!
7. Keep curtains and windows closed as this will help to keep the flashes out of sight and help dull the sound of the fireworks. Distract the dog with a training session, a game or tricks and have the television on or music playing. It is worth doing this exercise during other times in the year so that it is part of their normal routine.
8. Keep the dogs collar on with owner surname, number or name of your house, postcode and contact number and your vets number as it has been known for dogs to take flight during the firework season and even dogs who have previously shown no fear can disappear if frightened.
9. As already mentioned, in the event of severe problems then owners should seek veterinary advice or the help of a qualified canine or animal behaviourist.
10. For anxiety, excitability and travel sickness owners could try scullcap and valerian tablets (from though they should not be used with pregnant or lactating females or Anxiety TFLN drops available from Company of Animals who may be found online.
Try not to worry and remember to remain calm.

Sophia MGoDT(MT)

Contact Sophia at


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