The Kennel Club is warning dog owners to ensure their pets are comfortable, safe and as stress-free as possible in the run up to Halloween and Bonfire Night.
As one of the nosiest times of year, pet owners are urged to make preparations and take steps to ensure their dogs do not get frightened by the unfamiliar sight and sound of fireworks, Halloween costumes, people knocking at the door and any sort of unfamiliar shock, fright or noise.
Dogs may run away or act aggressively, posing a danger to themselves and people.
The Kennel Club has advised on how to minimise a dog’s stress levels:
- Acclimatise your dog to noises using a noise CD to introduce them to unfamiliar sounds
- Walk your dog before dusk, as frightening sights and sounds are less likely before sundown
- Check where and when firework displays are. Ask neighbours if they are planning anything
- Shut all windows and doors and draw all curtains to block out flashes of light
- Make a safe retreat for your dog to venture to. Let them take refuge where they feel safe and comfortable
- Distract your dog from unfamiliar noises by using familiar ones, such as TV or radio
- Behave as normal, as your dog will pick up on changes in how you act. Keep to your and your dog’s routine as much as possible
- Reward calm behaviour with dog treats or favourite toys
- Top up their water bowl if necessary, as anxious dogs pant more and become thirsty quicker
- If necessary, seek help from an animal behaviourist, especially if your dog is severely noise phobic. Products such as Adaptil could be considered as a non-drug solution to reduce stress and keep your dog calm
- Don’t take your dog to a firework display or leave them outside when fireworks are being let off
- Don’t try and tempt your dog out of their retreat or try and force them to ‘face their fears’
- Don’t tell your dog off, this will only make them feel more distress
It is quite natural for a dog to feel scared of loud and unfamiliar sights and sounds, and to behave unpredictably. It is essential that responsible dog owners plan ahead for Halloween and Bonfire Night to reduce the stress on dogs and eliminate the likelihood of a negative incident involving an animal.