Keep your dog safe on Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night With the approach of Hallowe’en and Bonfire night we may be busy planning costumes and fun nights out but remember that the scary costumes, decorations and fireworks may not be so much fun for our dogs. We’ve put together some tips and advice to keep your pets safe and happy over this time. What can I do now to prepare? Build them up slowly, if dogs are given time and positive experiences to get used to something they are less likely to have problems with it. If you are going to be decorating your home or wearing fancy dress for Hallowe’en, start getting the objects or clothing out now and reward you dog for calm and relaxed behaviour when they are in sight, build up to wearing items one at a time. Remember that masks can be very strange for our dogs and we should not assume that they will be OK with such things straight away. If you know your dog worries about the bangs of fireworks start to get them used to the noise well in advance. The Sounds Scary programme is a proven and effective way to help them feel better about the strange noises that fireworks create. This great resource is now available free through Dogs Trust www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets It is important that you follow the instructions in the booklet on their website of how to build your dog up properly. If this is the first year with your dog and you’re not sure how they will react you can use the following resource too. The use of pheromones, using an Adaptil plug in diffuser, to help calm your dog can be a useful aid to keeping them more relaxed over this period. It is best to plug it in two weeks before your dog will need it so that it will have maximum effect (they last for a month so one should get you through this period). Please note that it will not solve the problem so you need to do other things alongside this but it will be a useful extra support to your dog. Be aware that other diffusers do not have the same methods of action or evidence of efficacy as the Adaptil so are not recommended. Prepare kongs (a robust chew toy) stuffed with goodies and put them in the freezer to keep your dog amused and happy, some great ideas of what to stuff the kongs with can be found here www.kongstuffing.com/?page_id=10 . If you know that your dog is extremely fearful of fireworks please contact us to discuss this. On the day Preparation is key! Take your dog for a free run in the daylight (and before trick or treaters start roaming on Hallowe'en), feed them early and ensure they have been out for toileting before it gets dark. Before it gets dark close curtains to stop dogs seeing the fireworks flashing, turn on the TV/radio to minimise the impact of bangs of fireworks (the washing machine and dishwasher are also good at adding white noise). It is important you do this BEFORE the fireworks start rather than reacting to the first one once your dog is already scared. Set up a safe space or den for your dog they like to hide in a dark, quiet place (a cardboard box or den of blankets under a table often works). Plan where to put this so that it is not right underneath a window or by an external door. On the night For Hallowe’en don't bring your dog to the door when trick or treaters come; leave them in a different room as the costumes and crowds of children are likely to be overwhelming andfor them. If you are giving out goodies remember to keep them up high and safely away from your dog, and remember chocolate is poisonous to dogs. On Bonfire Night prepare as discussed above and don't leave your dog alone on nights you think there may be fireworks going off as they may destroy items in the home or even panic and injure themselves. We strongly advise that our support dogs do not get taken to fireworks displays or even get taken out once darkness falls, as it is an extremely strange and potentially scary environment for them. It is hard to know how to act when your dog is anxious or afraid, in general it is best to act relaxed and confident and praise them for responding positively to anything. Distract them with play, stuffed kongs and fun interaction with you. If they are very fearful or choosing to hide away don’t try and coax them out this is their coping strategy but instead praise and treat them if they do choose to come out of their own accord. If your dog is worried and wants to be with you and cannot be distracted with play or food it has been shown that comforting them at this point will not exacerbate their fear, therefore please do not ignore them as this can be more distressing to them than anything. If you can, wait to toilet your dog again until most or all of the fireworks have stopped. If this is not possible go out prepared with tasty treats to give your dog anytime a bang happens. Keep them on lead if you are not in an enclosed space as often dogs bolt when scared. Remember…. Prepare well and don’t leave your dog alone during fireworks, and don’t forget that fireworks displays can be spread over a few weekends and are not just on fireworks night. Masks and costumes can be very scary and strange for any dogs. Keep poisonous chocolate and Hallowe’en goodies safely out of reach of your dog at all times. We hope that the above helps you to feel more prepared. Don’t forget that preparation is the key to minimising stress for both you and your dog, and it’s never too early to start. Lastly, and most importantly, enjoy the celebrations safely and respect your dog’s emotions at this time.