‘Fraid of Fireworks

‘Fraid of Fireworks

As we approach Halloween and Bonfire Night, fireworks tend to play a large part in the festivities that people participate in.

Further to my Fireworks Anxiety (dogs) post from 2014, as a lot of pets are scared of fireworks, here are some tips to help them through it.


Dogs

Long Term: it is good practise to try and desensitise your dog to the loud bangs, so that thunder and fireworks are not too much of an issue.

With my two, from being small pups, I played thunder and fireworks videos on YouTube at a low volume to get them used to the noises. Over time I increased the volume (as real thunder and fireworks are loud!) to continue the desensitising. I would play with my pups or practise tricks and reward with treats – doing something positive and enjoyable to help my pups not be bothered by the noises going on.

Gradually, over time, working with your dog to desensitise them to loud noises, can help them to have a positive association to these sounds (such as thunder and fireworks) with, instead of evoking a negative and often fearful response.

A couple of relaxed dogs

During: some things you can do for your dog whilst the fireworks are going off in your neighbourhood to help them feel more relaxed…

– Use an anti-anxiety plug in diffuser or calming collar. These use calming pheromones to help calm your dog. The ones I’ve used in the past (in other circumstances) have been Adaptil products, but there are other brands on the market.

– Ensure your dog has a safe space; a quiet, secure, covered area to retreat to, should they need it. A crate (door left open) or table covered with a blanket or towel, with blankets and favourite toys inside can be a place of comfort for your dog to go to if the fireworks get too much for them.

If you are able to provide multiple safe spaces within your home, this will give your dog options – they may feel less stress and anxiety in one area of the house, so giving multiple safe spaces gives your dog the choice of where to retreat to, where they feel safest.

– Do not take your dog outside whilst fireworks are going off as this will only add to their anxiety. Ensure you have taken them for walkies and let them out for the toilet before fireworks are due to go off, which usually means taking them out before dark.

– Close your blinds/ curtains; it’s not just the noise of fireworks that can frighten your dog – the flashing lights can also upset them. Blocking out the sight of the fireworks should help.

– If your dog is content to have a chew toy/ treat or to engage in play, this is a good way to distract them from what’s going on outside.

– If your dog has severe anxiety, speak to your vet as they may require medication to help them through the firework season. Ask your vet to refer you to a behaviourist to work on this long term.

Dog walkies before dark

Cats

– As with dogs, keep cats inside whilst the fireworks are going off. If your cat is an outdoor cat, ensure to provide a litter tray whilst they are indoors.

Do not confine your cat to one room/ area as they may injure themselves trying to escape.

– Block off/ lock cat flaps and ensure your doors and windows are secure to prevent your cat from getting out.

Do create a safe hiding place for your cat; somewhere they can retreat to if they need to.

– If your cat is happy to be distracted with play, do spend time playing with your cat to ease their anxiety.

Feliway or other branded pheromone products can also be used to help relax your cat.

Kittens safe and snuggled in a box with blankets and bed

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

– If they usually live outside in a hutch, it’s a good idea to bring the hutch inside, or put your pets in an inside enclosure, whilst fireworks are going on outside.

– Ensure windows and doors are closed. Ensure curtains and blinds are closed. This will help dampen the noise.

– Adding extra bedding in the hutch or indoor enclosure will also help to dampen to noise, and provides a safe area to snuggle in if they get scared.

– Monitor their behaviour and seek veterinary assistance if necessary. If a rabbit or guinea pig is severely anxious they may stop eating, chew their cage, freeze, pull their fur out, or perform other anxious behaviour.

Rabbit in a hutch, indoors. Hutch has extra hay and a plastic hide-away.

Summary: All Pets

– Need a safe space away from the fireworks.

– Need to be monitored. Any extreme behavioural changes should be noted and your vet contacted.

– Need to be secure, indoors with windows and doors securely closed. Curtains and blinds should also be closed.

– Avoid having your pets outside with you if you are doing or attending firework displays.

Fireworks

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages:

• Instagram (@alis.animal.answers)
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• Twitter (@AlisAnswers)
• LinkedIn (Ali Lloyd)

Puppy Tails (5)

Puppy Tails (5)

Continuing “Puppy Tails” detailing the training going on with our two young doggos – Rollo and Brina.

If you’re wondering where July’s post is… Well, it isn’t I’m sad to say. We’re in the process of preparing to move and time got away from me! However, if you’re in the same situation, please check out posts done by myself and Our Dog Friends related to moving with pets – link 1 and link 2.

Our Brina has turned one year old last month!

She and Rollo have been working recently on training commands, during on lead walkies – keeping them interested and engaged, to alleviate any frustration of being restricted to lead walks (now that the local livestock are back out in the fields) and to keep their focus on their handler. This has also come in handy with Rollo being restricted to lead walks for 2 weeks after a recent foot injury.

One of the commands we have been working on is “touch” – asking them to come away from whatever they’re doing and putting their nose on my hand. Rollo picked this up almost immediately, and Brina had the hang of it after just a couple of days – although Brina does like to put her nose and tongue on you 😅.

The idea is that these commands can also be used when the dogs are off lead, to come back (reward motivation) when I need them to. Dogs can become fixated on things that draw their attention away from you, and make them seem like they have selective hearing! They can grow out of this, with consistent training, but being able to manage their behaviour when this happens is key. No dog behaves perfectly 100% of the time, especially when they’re in their ‘teenage’ phase, no matter what some trainers will have you believe about their own (speaking from experience). So a variety of training commands for a variety of situations will prove helpful. So far, the off lead response to “touch” has been very good!

Brina is highly motivated by food, and will immediately “focus” when I give the command, when she knows I have treats in my pocket! This has helped train new commands, like “touch” as she quickly learns what behaviour she has performed that resulted in the treat and is keen to perform the behaviour on command, for a reward of course! Low fat/ calorie treats work best if you’re giving out a fair few in training sessions – remember that food/ treats given in the day will impact their daily food intake (so adjust as necessary).

Rollo likes to change his motivation – when he was under 1 year old, he was like Brina; highly motivated by treats. When he was around 1 year old he lost his interest in treats on walks, but was highly motivated by the reward of his squeaky ball! Now, he is back to being motivated by treats – but only by the right treat… Otherwise, the squeaky ball usually does the trick. Honestly, sometimes I think he wakes up in the morning and decides what he wants to be motivated by that day, in a training session or when a command is given! So, when we go out, I’m prepared with whatever I may need to keep his attention on me when necessary.

Alongside training “touch” as a new command, I’ve been reinforcing “go on” whilst on lead walks. When I’m training on lead, the dogs need to be focused on me as their handler, until I tell them “go on” which is accompanied by me giving them the length of the lead (providing it is safe to do so) and allowing them to walk for them – sniffing, dawdling, etc. (In my mind this stemmed from “go on, do your own thing”.)

It’s important to have a break command such as “go on” so your dog knows when training is done and they’re free to do their own thing.

“Touch” was initially introduced by asking the dogs to “sit” and “focus” (or “look at me* – whichever works) and me saying the word “touch” whilst gently touching my palm to their nose. After a few times doing this, I then held my hand close to their nose, and asked them to “touch”. This was then developed to be done whilst walking, and as a way to get their attention back on me.

Let me know in the comments or on social media (see below) if you try to teach “touch” yourself and how it goes!


To read the previous”Puppy Tails” please follow the links below:

Puppy Tails (1)Puppy Tails (2)Puppy Tails (3)Puppy Tails (3A)Puppy Tails (4)


All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.



If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages…

• Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
• Instagram (@alis.animal.answers)
• Twitter (@AlisAnswers)
• LinkedIn (Ali Lloyd)

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