Dogs & Fireworks: Helping Them Cope
With Bonfire Night just around the corner, fireworks season is fast approaching and it can be a frightening time for your dog. We’ve put together some useful practical tips to help keep your pooch as calm and happy as possible during the festivities.
It might sound strange, but desensitising your dog to noise in the weeks leading up to fireworks night can really help. Try playing low volume background fireworks noises at home so that they can be familiarised to the sounds without being overwhelmed. As the weeks go by, increase the volume very gradually and be on hand to reassure them in case they do panic.
Create a Safe Space
Don't wait until the start of the fireworks season to set up a safe haven for your dog. Create somewhere cosy they can get used to ahead of time – this can be as simple as a blanket draped over a table or cage.
During the fireworks themselves make sure you draw the curtains and close windows and doors. Your pooch might also be most comfortable in their own bed so give them the freedom to choose. Let them roam around the house if they want to.
Relax to Music
Calming, soothing music at a low volume in the background can really help to mask loud noises and keep the atmosphere relaxed at home. There are also specially designed "dog relaxation" playlists available for use during fireworks and storms – a quick online search will give you plenty of options!
Adjust Your Walking Routine
Dogs should be kept indoors during fireworks so it’s a good idea to go for your daily dog walk earlier on when you know fireworks are less likely to go off. Ideally you should try to introduce changes over a few days so you aren’t suddenly disrupting the normal routine – this in itself can be unsettling for your dog.
Using rewards can be a good way to reinforce the behaviour you want and keep things warm and positive. If you are calm and relaxed this will also reassure them that there is no danger and will help to reduce their anxiety.
Use Calming Techniques
Massaging, petting, or brushing your dog can be a relaxing experience. If you can, make these activities part of your routine before fireworks season so that your pooch is familiar with them and knows what to expect. These can also be great for strengthening your bond and helping them to associate you with positive experiences.
Calming supplements, sprays or diffusers can also help to reduce stress levels and help your pet stay relaxed during fireworks season. However, make sure you research these thoroughly and consult your vet if you are not sure on suitability for your dog.
Keep them Busy
Interactive toys like treat-dispensing puzzles or a simple game of tug of war can help keep your pup so busy that they forget all about the loud noises outside. Playing some games or letting them get their teeth into a big chew can be a great stress reliever too and help to burn off some nervous energy.
Make Time for Cuddles
Don’t crowd your dog if they are stressed and anxious but be available for cuddles if they want them of course. Dogs are affectionate creatures and some good snuggling up together is an important part of bonding and letting them know you care.
Just like people, dogs are all individuals. You will know your dog best of all - pay close attention to his cues and adjust your approach if you need to. If your dog shows an extreme fear of fireworks, speak with a professional dog trainer or a vet. They might advise an alternative approach or medication that could help.
How to Care for Your New Puppy
Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting moment but it’s also a big responsibility. Your new puppy will be leaving the security of being with his mother behind, so he’ll need all the love and care you can give to help him settle in. There are lots of things to consider, including his environment, adjusting as part of the family, healthcare and of course proper nutrition. To help guide you through those first few weeks and months we have put together some top tips on how you can set up your puppy for success.
Early Veterinary Care
Before bringing your new puppy home make sure you have a scheduled appointment for their initial vet examination just to ensure everything gets off on the right foot. Consult your veterinarian for advice on immunisations, deworming, and flea and tick prevention as well as any health plans they might have available. These plans often help to spread out the costs of regular check-ups and some of the ongoing care that they might need.
Bringing Your Puppy Home
When you’re ready for the big day, it’s a good idea to make sure you can be at home for a couple of days to spend time with your puppy and help them to adjust. Have a chat with your breeder about their usual routine for food, exercise and grooming so you can make sure your puppy knows what to expect and when.
Make sure your home is calm and that they have a comfortable bed they can retreat to if they get overwhelmed. A crate near you can be a good idea at first so they can’t wander off but still feel secure. Give them some space to explore at their own pace and let them come to you for a cuddle when they are ready.
Taking them outside straightaway for a toilet break will also help to minimise accidents and start to instil good habits from day one.
One of the most important things you can do for your puppy is to provide the right nutrition. Make sure you give them food that is appropriate for their age, lifestyle, health needs, and all the physical demands of growing and playing. Puppies’ nutritional needs change as they grow and develop, so make sure you keep track of which food is appropriate for which life stage.
Make sure you introduce any changes in your puppy’s diet gradually. You may also want to consider a digestive supplement, which can be very helpful when it comes to unsettled tummies. If your puppy has diarrhoea or is being sick, however, you should always consult your vet for advice. Your puppy's immune system will not be as strong as an adult dog's, and he may be more susceptible to becoming unwell from bacterial or viral infections like Salmonella and parvovirus. Extra caution should always be taken. Spplements like Immune Aid for Dogs can also help to support your puppy’s natural defences as his immune system slowly develops.
Many people opt to support their puppy’s joints with an additional joint supplement to help stave off joint issues in later life. This is especially important when it comes to larger breeds, working breeds or where there is a family history of joint issues. Joint Aid for Dogs can be fed from any age at the General Maintenance level to help support growing joints and muscles into adulthood and beyond.
Once your puppy is settled in at home, it’s time to get socialising. Gradually introduce them to a variety of people, other friendly pets, environments and places. Stay calm and take things at your puppy’s pace, remembering to reward good behaviour. The first few months are a vital time for ensuring you are raising a happy, well-adjusted dog that is confident in dealing with the world around them. Enrol your puppy in playdates or even classes for puppy socialisation to help them develop their all-important social skills.
Basic Obedience Training
Basic obedience commands like sit, wait, and recall will give your dog the freedom to do the things they enjoy while remaining safe and under control. Reward positive behaviours and with treats, compliments and love. Establishing a consistent routine for bathroom breaks, feeding, and playtime will help your puppy to understand what to expect and when.
Approach obedience training with plenty of patience and understanding – your puppy will be taking in a lot of new information and may make mistakes. Make sure you are clear and consistent in your commands and expectations to avoid confusion. Avoid punishment-based training methods.
A happy, healthy puppy will also need physical exercise, mental stimulation and playtime. However, but be careful to avoid over exercising, especially in young puppies whose joints are still developing. As a guide, let your puppy have around 5 minutes exercise for every month of their age up to twice a day. The right amount will also depend on their breed and size – ask your vet for some advice if you are not sure.
Grooming & Hygiene
Regularly grooming your puppy is an important part of keeping him healthy. Even if your puppy doesn’t look particularly scruffy making grooming a normal part of his routine will help him get used to the process and it can also be a good opportunity for the two of you to bond.
Chew Toys & Teething
Puppies naturally love to play and be active, so it's important to give them a variety of toys to keep them entertained. Toys are crucial for your dog's wellbeing since they can combat boredom and offer comfort during anxious times.
Giving your puppy the right chew toys can satisfy his or her natural drive to chew, which will help to soothe sore gums and distract him from the discomfort of teething.
We’ve covered some of the key things to be aware of when you welcome a new puppy into your home but it’s not exhaustive. There are lots of other good resources available online that are worth reading like the Kennel Club. Your breeder should also be able to guide you on what your puppy needs and when. Above all, finding out all you can before you bring him home and speaking regularly to your vet will help to make sure your puppy grows into a happy and healthy dog.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice. If you have any concerns about the health and wellbeing of your animal always consult your vet.