Flipping fireworks on their head and helping your dog
As dog parents, we all hate fireworks night. Some of us are lucky that our dogs are ok with fireworks but for the majority it is a night of pure distress for both our dogs and for us.
I have worked with my own dog Milo with firework desensitising many years ago and now on November 5th he is on his back with his feet splayed out and snoring contentedly. This is what I want for all our doggies.
So here is my advice and please let me know if it works for you. I have a facebook page where you can feedback to me and even leave a review if you are so kind. 🙂
Top tips for firework nights:
- My very top tip for those of you who have left it last minute is to give your dog a treat every time a firework goes off. The timing of this particularly technique is crucial. A second too late and it’s not going to work. Also, if your dog is already in a frantic state of mind it’s going to be too late to help them this way. This takes time and commitment the very first year you do this but believe me it’s worth it – if you get it right you won’t need to do it again. I write more on this below.
- Prepare a safe haven in your house: dogs pick up on energy and so if the atmosphere in your house is one of relaxation and calm they will be very receptive to this and it can transform their state pre-fireworks. Make sure you feel calm and relaxed too. Dogs are very sensitive to our energy…
- Attract your dog’s 5 senses:
Sense of hearing:
You want to counteract the fireworks, so putting on some calming music at an optimum sound level helps a great deal. some people choose to put the television on loud but this is not as effective because it is just another loud noise stimulant and there are gaps in the noise levels on television programs where a firework gets through. Choose classical or chill out music. Something to help calm you too…
Sense of smell:
-burn some sage to clear the room of negative energy and emotions.
-burn some lavendar and sage essential oils or buy a calming spray for their bedding e.g. Pet Remedy
A dogs’ sense of smell is incredible and far more acute than ours. They have 300million receptors in their noses and we have 6 million, so do dilute oils etc…
Sense of sight:
Create a safe, dark haven for them in the corner of a room. Light is another stimulant and your dogs’ are already over stimulated with the bang of fireworks, so help them by placing a blanket over their crate bed in the corner (NEVER LOCK YOUR DOG IN A CRATE AS THEY MAY HARM THEMSELVES IN A PANIC), or create a dark den over their bedding. Corners are where dogs naturally go to as a defensive position in the room and under tables etc where it is dark.
If you start the evening off (before the fireworks) by preparing the space and then giving your dog a calming massage this will help them greatly as it will signal to their nervous system to relax. As you massage them think calming thoughts and re-assure them. Visualise in your mind your ideal evening where they are calm and the fireworks are no bother to them. The power of visualisation and intention is amazing. Read my article on dog massage…
As mentioned above, the most effective thing you can do is to transform what was once felt as a negative experience into a positive one. And for dogs who are food orientated, a treat works, well, ehem, a treat!
Gift your whole evening to your dog and sit close to them with a stack of treats at the ready. Ensure your dog is a calm mood before trying this technique. When a firework goes off, time it exactly, to give them a treat the moment you hear it and reassure them that “all is well, they are good” and what a lovely firework that was because now they get a treat. Or if your dog senses a firework before you do, “prick of the ears”, “whines”, “licks lips nervously”, “starts to retreat, attract their attention with the treat while you are still able and ask them to do something like “sit”. With the body moving into a more relaxed position this will help the mind to follow and the focus on the treat is in a way, a meditative state for your dog. Once you have their complete focus and they stop the nervous behaviour – reward them. Repeat if they start all over again. Your persistence will pay off. Don’t give up. See the next firework as a positive opportunity to give them a treat. Flip this negative scenario on its head and make it a positive one for you and your dog. It might be hard work the first time but the benefits will change both of your lives. Breathe – believe – visualise what you want to happen. If however, they have gone into panic mode a treat is not going to work. This does not work for severe cases or if you have timed it too late when there is no interest in the reward. Try a meaty fresh food treat as a real incentive if your dog is calm enough.
You want to reassure them and be assertive that all is well. If you are feeling sorry for them or upset then this negative emotion will simply fuel their own feelings of negativity and fear. Re-assure them but in a positive and re-assuring way. “Hey, I’ve got this covered!”
Work on your yourself too. If you are sitting there cursing the fireworks inside your head then this is the energy you are sending to your dogs. “Mum/Dad is upset too, it is all just too much…”
Instead you want to give off a feeling that fireworks night is nothing to worry about and you’ve got everything under control and you too will enjoy the chilled out music and smells and ambience you have created for them.
I hope this helps xx
There are many products you can also try like the thunder jacket, adaptil collar and plug-in, pet remedy spray, fireworks CD to practice the tips above in the 6+ months leading up to fireworks etc… See what works for your dogs, every dog is different.