As exciting as the celebrations are for many of us, it’s one of the most challenging times of the year for anxious dogs.
But if you’re a dog owner dreading the weeks ahead, don’t worry - there are practical steps you can take to make life easier.
Many dogs are alarmed by sudden and unfamiliar loud noises. The key to easing their fears is to expose them to firework sounds well in advance.
You’ll find numerous videos online and one helpful soul has even created a dedicated ‘Relax my Dog’ YouTube channel, with several excellent anxiety-prevention videos specifically focused on fireworks and thunderstorms.
Start playing at a low level, making sure your dog is comfortable before gradually increasing the volume.
2. Take earlier walks
Plan to walk your dog before dark to avoid any nasty surprises. As if noisy fireworks weren’t challenging enough, there’s also the issue of Halloween costumes to deal with.
3. Set up a safe space
Make sure dogs have access to somewhere they can hide and feel safe if they need to - for example, under a bed or a table, or in their crate. Including a well-loved toy and something bearing your scent will also help your dog feel more secure.
4. Don’t make a fuss
Stay relaxed and cheerful with your dog, rather than being over-attentive and fussing them. Dogs are sensitive to your mood, so showing them you aren’t worried about the noises will reassure a dog that nothing is wrong.
5. Mask the sound
Keep windows and curtains closed and turn the radio or TV up loud enough to drown out the bangs. If you do need to open the front door, make sure your dog is safely shut away in another room.
4. Aromatherapy - yes really!
It may sound like something from Ab Fab, but if you can get past that, pheromone diffusers are an inexpensive way to calm dogs in times of stress. Adaptil is one of the best known brands, and works by emitting DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone). Completely odourless to humans, just plug it in and your dog’s acute sense of smell will do the rest.
7. See an expert if the problem is severe
If your dog is suffering severe anxiety, and responds badly to even low-level noise, it may be time to seek advice from a professional. An experienced animal behaviourist or your vet should be able to advise on the best course of action, whether that’s a programme of desensitisation or a calming complementary feed like Zylkène to help ease their anxiety.