Sparklers, toffee apples, that crackling of the bonfire — I’ve got to admit fireworks night always whip up cheeky fun memories of my childhood (including losing a tooth to rock hard fudge and my mum making me wear ‘those’ terrible mittens — flashback horror).
When you have a dog there are many more implications to bonfire night and the bangs seem to go on forever, starting in October and ending ‘sometime’ in January. It’s constant. I’ve friends whose dogs love the noises, but the majority get very distressed.
You know what they say, dogs and fireworks go together like... Well, they don't. Our pets’ hearing is far more sensitive than our own. Those shrieking firecrackers can reach up to 150 decibels which is equivalent to a jumbo jet taking off just 25 meters away (enough to cause eardrum rupture). Missing animal reports increase by a third for dogs and a quarter for cats — it’s scary stuff for them and us.
Check out Poppy’s Picnic four pointers for a happier bonfire night this year:
1. Indoors is best
Sights, sounds and smells of home will always be the most comforting and calming place for your pet, plus your walls will muffle those loud cracks in the sky. Poppy and the girls do love a good sniff and stretch of their paws and taking them out on an extra long walks/runs/jogs (!) in the morning and during the day helps wear them (and me) out before it gets dark. Don’t be shy about calling on friends and family to help either, it’ll make all the difference later that night.
2. Minimise Noise and Bright Lights
I notice a massive difference in Poppy when bright flashes and loud noises are booming through the window. That’s an easy one to fix…the nights draw in quicker now, so it’s no great shakes to close the curtains and keep things as normal as possible at home.
I keep the TV on in the background and the radio on in other rooms. If you have to go out for the evening on fireworks night, leave the lights, TV and radio on to help mask the outside bangs (NB ear muffs optional 😌)
3. Make A Safe Hiding Place
I learnt this one the hard way. One year, I stood mesmerised at the window watching the sky illuminated with sprays of sparkles (I know, I know, watching from inside with the fire on is cheating, but it’s flipping cold out there) and noticed Poppy had disappeared. I found her hiding under our bed — she just wanted somewhere warm and cosy to hide away from all those bangs and whistles. Since then I’ve made this her ‘all year round safe place’. Be it their crate, under the sofa or bed…go with what your dog feels best with and don’t force them. Oh and a new toy or juicy marrow bone (check our our bites and treats) are great distractions.
4. Keep Calm and Carry On
Yesterday I was in the office and Slipper couldn’t settle because of the fireworks in the evening and she was a bundle of nerves. I gave up, she wasn’t going to calm down until she was sleeping on my lap. They want to feel safe and by being around us they smell our scent and instinctively know if we’re stressed. I didn’t make a fuss, I didn’t give her extra attention, I just carried on talking and tip-tapping at the keyboard. She felt safe, and I felt warm inside that she choose to be with me.
Have a safe bonfire night,
Dylan and Poppy x