Expert explains how to help dogs cope with fireworks on Bonfire Night

Dogs can freeze with fear or even charge fences as a reaction to fireworks

Laura Hampson
Friday 04 November 2022 11:00 GMT
Dog behaviour expert reveals tips to keep pets safe on Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night can see your pets struggling, or even frozen with fear, as fireworks are let off around the country.

The unpredictability and the noise from fireworks can be particularly hard on dogs who perceive the sounds to be a threat, and it can trigger their fight or flight response.

Last year alone the RSPCA had 11,785 responses to its impact reporting survey, with pet owners detailing the fear responses demonstrated by animals on Bonfire Night, which ranged from freezing with fear to even charging fences.

Now, a dog behaviour expert has revealed how owners can prepare their pets for 5 November, to help their pups feel less frightened when the evening comes.

Rosie Bescoby, 37, suggests playing fireworks recordings when your dog is a relaxed and sleepy state.

Starting off by playing it quietly, Bescoby explained that owners should gradually increase the volume of the recording over time so pets aren’t shocked by the noises come bonfire night.

Bescoby also suggests that owners could build a den for their dog in the place they sleep or where they go to hide, or you could try to play some drum and base music around the house in the lead-up to the day.

Rosie Bescoby is a clinical animal behaviourist

On Bonfire Night, Bescoby warns that owners should walk their dogs before dark and never take them to see a fireworks display.

“I think I’ve only met one dog in my time that genuinely seemed to like fireworks,” Bescoby explains. “For others the anxiety of the noises build up over time. They have a different hearing range to us and hear extreme noises.

“We can try and prepare them by playing the firework bangs to them in the lead up. It’s important to make sure you do this when they are relaxed and settled but not asleep.”

Bescoby adds that this means the dog will become desensitised to the noise of the fireworks and may not even react to the fireworks on Bonfire Night.

Building a den for your dog can create a safe space for them on Bonfire Night

As for a den, Bescoby says it should have food and water so that it can feel like a safe space for the pet.

“If your dog is in fear you can give them reassurance but don’t overdo it,” she continued. “If they are not coming to you asking for reassurance then you should leave them alone.

“Never leave them alone by themselves in the house or take them to a display. Make sure their microchip details are up to date in case they bolt.”

Additional reporting by SWNS

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