Bonfire Night might be fun for humans, but dogs have other ideas.
Phoebe Hastain, from Kent, says: ‘Growing up, my family dog Fudge was always afraid of fireworks. Every year he would be extremely anxious and have a look of fear on his face – terrifying to watch as an owner.
“So when I recently started thinking about getting my own dog, there was a lot to consider. I live in a town with regular community celebrations — especially around Halloween and Christmas — which means fireworks, bright lights, and big crowds.
‘So when I recently adopted 10-week-old Jack, Jet, I knew I had to deal with it early to avoid Fudge’s distress.’
That’s right, the best way to nip this fear of loud noises in the bud is to raise them as puppies who have nothing to fear from loud noises like fireworks.
Lorna turned to the Zigzag puppy training program for advice and they recommended some training tips to help equip Jet for a stress-free Bonfire Night.
For anyone trying to get their pup used to loud noises, Lorna Winter, co-founder and head of ZigZag Training, has put together tips on how to prepare and best relax your pup for fireworks. if they fear Bonfire Night itself.
Try to prepare ahead bonfire night
It bears repeating that getting your dog used to loud noises as a baby is key to keeping them happy at Bonfire Nights throughout their lives.
However, if you’re just starting out today, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t take long.
“This process can take weeks,” says Lorna, “so don’t put it off until a week in advance, because it’s too late. At Zigzag, we’ve put together a Spotify playlist of relevant sounds you can play to help your pup become more familiar with these sounds.’
Don’t worry – with bonfire night only a week and a half away, it’s still worth a try, and even if it doesn’t make it this year, you can start now before the next big storm. or a holiday where people set off fireworks.
Make sure your dog is comfortable while exercising
Lorna says this helps them register the noise as background noise.
The best time to put this playlist on is when they are distracted by eating.
Start with a low volume and gradually increase it
Starting with a low voice will ensure that they don’t get scared and don’t get scared right away.
“Once they get used to the sound,” Lorna adds, “you can gradually increase the volume so they’re familiar with the louder fireworks.
‘But if they are afraid of increasing the volume, lower the volume to the previous level and start again.’
Repeats the key
Repetition is a big deal in puppy training.
‘Make sure you play these sounds at different meal times each day; eventually not reacting to the sound will become a habit and will ensure the puppy won’t be so scared on fireworks night,” says Lorna.
Even if your dog is completely comfortable with the noise, you need to continue the training so they don’t forget.
Lorna says: ‘Once your dog is comfortable with the sounds, practice them at least once a month to keep it fresh in their little minds.
As for Bonfire Night itself…
Do not neglect your frightened puppy
If your dog is scared, don’t leave him alone.
“When working with a dog who is afraid of fireworks, it’s important not to assume that the behavior will go away on its own,” says Lorna.
“Our pups rely on us for support, so if you have an anxious pup it’s very important that you don’t leave them alone, as this fear can unfortunately turn into a phobia if not supported.”
Walk your dog during the day
Don’t try to take them out at night as fireworks can go off overhead at any moment.
“Exercising your dog during the day will also make him more tired in the evening, so he’ll be more rested and less anxious,” says Lorna.
Turn off the sound
There are things you can do to try to turn off the sound as much as possible.
“Playing ambient or classical music will help distract your pup with pleasant sounds, reminding him that he’s safe,” says Lorna.
“You can also use a white noise machine or turn up the volume on your TV – this allows the puppy to have a more consistent noise level.”
Create a safe place for your baby
Even if you don’t leave your pup alone, they may enjoy having a small safe space nearby.
Lorna explains: “Your anxious dog may run away and hide in a smaller corner to feel secluded and safe from the outside world.
‘By creating a safe place for your dog, you can easily monitor his whereabouts and behavior. Add their favorite blankets and toys for extra support and cuddles.’
Distract and play with them
Another big part of puppy training is based on positive distractions.
“In order for your dog to feel safe, they need to know that their owner is also uncomfortable with noises and therefore should not feel threatened,” explains Lorna.
‘Look, your dog will play with you as normal, offering interactive feeders and chew toys.’
Use anxiety wraps
Think of anxiety wraps as a soothing hug that they can wear with pressure that creates a calming effect.
But Lorna adds: ‘As with any medical or health advice, it’s always best to speak to a professional before trying anything new with your dog.’
Have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk
More: Dog-breeding gang raises £850,000 by selling sick and dying dogs
MORE: Adorable cocker spaniel puppy dumped in the trash because it was born with a deformed leg
MORE: Puppy dog is the last surviving member of his abandoned litter of 11