Chilliwawa calm during fireworks

How to Calm Your Dog on Bonfire Night


Bonfire Night Fireworks: How Does Your Dog React?

Every year on the 5th November us doggies face an event where humans think it’s good fun to create loud explosions in the sky! It sounds like the heavens are crashing down on us little guys. Some of us pooches get very anxious and scared, as the noise is so unnatural.

I’m really lucky as the fireworks don’t really bother me. I sometimes am a bit curious as to what is going on, but other than that I’m fine. But some of my doggie friends find the noise very disturbing. They pant anxiously, and I get scared they’re hyperventilating. Some don’t know where to go and what to do with themselves.

So, to help make this Bonfire night experience less scary for all of my pooch friends everywhere, I’ve asked my vet and researched the doggienet for useful tips on how to make a night of fireworks less stressful for your dogs.

Dog Whisperer Caesar Millan’s Advice

I thought, who better to ask than the dog whisperer himself, Caesar Milan? I didn’t get the chance to call him personally as my new pawphone is not working properly. So I looked at his website instead. It’s actually quite pawtastic! Living in America he gives some great advice for the Fourth of July fireworks which we can apply to our Bonfire Night too. Here is some of Caesar’s advice:

Tip #1: Identify Your Dog

This is a simple thing all of us can do. Put an ID name tag on your dog’s collar with your phone number, in case he or she gets scared and runs off. The survival instinct of a frightened dog is to flee.

Caesar explains that in America, “More pets run away on the Fourth of July than any other day, so you should take extra steps to ensure their safety. Keep a keen eye on your dog during the commotion, and make sure your pet is wearing proper identification.”

This applies to our UK Bonfire Night too. It’s always advisable to keep your dogs on lead even a day or two before and after the actual fireworks. If someone sets off a loud bang in anticipation of the big night, your pooch could get spooked and run away.

Tip #2: Plan An Alternative Stay

If your dog really struggles with fireworks then just remove him or her from the situation completely. Plan a day away for your pooch. Perhaps you have some friends living in a quiet area where the fireworks won’t be heard. Or your regular dog sitter can help out. Just make sure that wherever you take your furry friend, they know the place and are with a familiar person, to not stress them further.

Tip #3: Preparation Training

This is a great tip if you’d like to teach your pooch to get used to fireworks. Ideally the training should start 2-3 months before a fireworks event. You’ll need a recording of loud firework noise. Here’s how to train: play the fireworks recording starting at a minimum volume and slowly increase it. Then immediately after do something fun with your dog, like caressing, playing, eating or treating. You can build this up over a few months and your pooch will begin to associate the loud noise with something positive.

Tip #4: Introduce A Tool

Chilli Wearing ThundershirtIf your dog’s anxiety is out of control then you might want to introduce a tool such as the Thundershirt. I have one myself, not for the fireworks but for other situations I can find stressful. It’s an interesting concept as it was developed for autistic children, helping then feel safe and comfortable by wearing this comforting shirt.
But note: your pooch will have to be in a calm state when you let him or her wear the Thundershirt. Once your pooch is highly anxious, the shirt won’t calm him or her down. So plan in advance.


Tip #5: Be A Calm Leader

Ultimately your behaviour during the fireworks will influence your dog. As the pack leader, the calmer you are, the calmer your pooch will be. If you show him or her that there’s nothing to be anxious about and you don’t show any excitement, chances are your pooch will follow. Another tip Caesar gives is to take us little furry friends out on a long walk before the big night. This expends our energy and we will automatically calm down.

My Vet’s Advice: Pets Naturally

dog at vetI thought I’d give my vet Peter Culpin a call, asking him for his advice on how to prepare your dog for Bonfire night. He said, no problem Chilli, and gave me some great tips!

Tip #1: SILEO For Noise Phobia

Peter told me about a new product out now for noise phobia which has proved to be very successful, SILEO – it is a gel applied to the gums. It’s the first ever FDA approved treatment for noise anxiety and stress for us pooches.

Tip #2: Adaptil

Adaptil offers a great set of products based on dog appeasing pheromones to help make your dog feel safe and calm. They say it’s like a puppy being around its mother, getting that sense of calm. The products range from Adaptil plug ins and sprays to collars, laden with pheromones for a constant soothing effect. Don’t forget, Adaptil products can be used for many situations your pooch finds stressful, not just fireworks.

Tip #3: Nutracalm Supplements

Find out more here!

Tip #4: Thundershirts

Get yours here!

Tip #5: Be Kind
Peter adds to his top tips that us doggies need a safe space. It is really important for pooches to have a hiding place where we feel secure and that we can get to even if our Mums and Dads are not in the house.

If you’d like some more information, you can also have a look at these great links:

1. RSPCA Fireworks Frighten AnimalsHelp Them Feel Safe Booklet

Offer a free downloadable leaflet to help keep your pets safe and relaxed

2. Kennel Club UK

The Kennel Club have a list of recommended steps you can do to practise before the big night and how you (the human) can behave to ease your dog’s experience on the day.

3. Blue Cross

They have a whole list of things to do to help all kinds of animals, including guinea pigs, rabbits, horses and of course dogs.

4. Positively

Victoria Still well’s website provides useful tips for a safe 4th July experience for all of your furry dog friends.

I hope the information provided by the experts and links will help you and your furry friend have a less stressful Bonfire Night. Please be aware that I’m not an expert myself, all of the statements in this dog blog post are opinions. If in doubt please consult your vet or behaviourist.

Paw hugs xxx