With Christmas and New Years Eve fast approaching and that last minute rush in full force, it’s easy to forget how stressful these festive periods can be for our pets. Although a beautiful and celebratory occasion for humans, it can be an extremely frightening and anxious time of year for our four-pawed companions, with evenings full of loud bangs and bright lights.
One of the best ways to keep your pet calm and safe during these celebratory occasions is desensitisation, gently introducing your dog to the sound of fireworks by playing similar noises randomly from time to time, starting out softly and then gradually increasing the volume over time as your dog gets used to these sounds. This gently decreases their fear or surprise when fireworks go off, helping them remain calm and relaxed. If you don’t have the lead time to do that this year, we’ve put together some top tips to help keep your dog calm over Christmas.
- Keep your dog indoors – If you normally keep your dog outside, it might be best to keep him indoors during this celebratory season as much as possible, allowing you to put him at ease, keep barking to a minimum (which will also prevent disruption to your neighbours), and reduce the risk of anxious or unordinary behaviour.
- Try to tire your dog out before the evening rolls in – If your dog has less energy, he’ll be less prone to panic during the night. Try walking or exercising your dog earlier in the day before the festivities begin. We recommend a long walk or field run between 3pm and 4pm, as fireworks tend to start going off around 6pm.
- Try to keep your home as sound-proof as possible – Keeping everything closed such as windows, doors and curtains will naturally muffle the noise from outside, and prevent your dog seeing flashing lights that might scare him further.
- Turn on the TV or Radio – Having normal noises sounding within the home will naturally calm and relax your dog, as these are sounds they are used to and feel comforted by. This will also help muffle the booms and bangs from neighbouring firework display, providing another constant source of noise that might distract and calm your dog. We often play Classic FM to keep Bella and Mia calm, as this is a soothing music genre. Try playing the music a couple of hours before fireworks begin, so your dog can begin to associate it with peace and comfort. Here’s a link to the Relax My Dog playlist on Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/album/6oYQYjExcvJ0ASG2Q4hH2M
- Use comforters – Sometimes comforters, such as soft dog toys and blankets, will help calm your dog thanks to the natural odours that remain on these fabrics helping your dog feel more comfortable and protected as they will smell of you and your pet.
- Remain calm yourself – If your dog senses you are stressed or anxious, they will react to this. Try and remain as calm, and relaxed as possible, rather than getting panicky or nervous about what could happen
- Use calming remedies or pheromones- Pheromones as well as chamomile, lavender and valerian are know to calm and relax the natural way, and are easy treatments to administer. Click here to view our range of calming treatments for pets, from plug-in diffusers to spot on treatments and collars.
- Treat your dog – Giving your dog a treat or favourite toy after particularly loud noises or events that have frightened your dog can help him associate the noise with positive things. Be careful not to overdo it, as your dog may begin to exhibit bad behaviour to get attention, but introducing this with rewarding praise may help keep your dog calm and relaxed for the remainder of the evening as they are distracted by tasty treats or their favourite activity toy.
- Don’t “punish” your dog for his fear – If your dog does get scared and exhibit certain behaviours, such as hiding under the table or in a corner, don’t attempt to pull them out. This might cause further stress for your dog, resulting in a more negative associated with the fireworks and in turn, potentially a more stressful evening to follow.
- Be responsible – if your dog does exhibit bad or anxious behaviour from fireworks, we do recommend you acknowledge this and act accordingly. We understand everybody likes to celebrate Christmas and welcoming in the New Year, but if your dog does get easy stressed or anxious it is important that you adapt to this and care for their needs to the best of your ability. Sometimes this does involve sacrificing your own celebration, but let’s face it, love is a four-legged word and where would we be without them?!
We really hope this post has helped, but if you do require any advise or assistance with your dog, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Customer Services team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0115 945 2751. If your dog’s reactions are severe, we recommend speaking to your vet before the festivities begin, so you can prepare accordingly meeting the emotional needs of your dog.
Do you have any additional tips for owners to keep their pets calm? Pop them in the comments below!
The Purely Pet Supplies Team