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Tips for helping your dog cope with fireworks

Fireworks can be incredibly distressing for some dogs, and it's horrible to see them so frightened and helpless. Read through these tips to find out how you can help to make the firework season less stressful for your dog.

Don't be afraid to comfort your dog if they are frightened! Contrary to popular belief, you will not reinforce (reward) your dog's fear if you stroke them or speak to them reassuringly when they are frightened. Whilst it's important that you remain calm and do not panic, it's absolutely okay for you to comfort your dog if they seek this, and your dog might thank you for it, knowing they can come to you for support when they need it.

Find out when and where local displays are taking place, and ask neighbours if they are planning to let off any fireworks close to home. This can help you to get prepared by taking your dog away for the night, even if it's just for a drive in the car.

Make sure your dog has been out for a walk or play in the garden, long before it gets dark and the fireworks begin. Sudden bangs, pops or bright lights from fireworks could spook your dog if you walk in the dark.

Close all of your windows and draw any curtains or blinds to reduce the effects of the lights from the fireworks - it's not just the loud noises that cause some dogs to feel afraid!

To mask the sound of fireworks, play some music or turn your TV up.

Make sure your dog always has unlimited access to a safe place inside the house, a place they can escape to if they feel frightened. Consider making a den under the table using your dog's favourite blankets, but allow them to retreat to wherever they feel safest even if this is not their own bed or crate (as long as it doesn't actually put them in danger!).

If your dog is feeling up to it, play some interactive games or provide mental enrichment such as a snuffle mat to take their mind off the loud noises. Chewing on appropriate chew items can release endorphins which will help your dog to feel calm and happy.

Speak to your vet about fast-acting, temporary medications or use pheromone therapy (such as ADAPTIL plug-ins) that will help your dog to feel calmer throughout the night.

It's possible to change the way your dog feels about fireworks or other scary noises, but this is often a long process which should be started several months in advance of firework season; if you're worried about your dog and would like to help them feel less scared, please get in touch sooner rather than later.

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