The approach of 5th November can raise concerns in any dog or pet owning house-hold.  The threat of unpredictable bangs and flashes can turn even the most relaxed and happy four-legged friend into a bundle of stress and fear; frightened by the loud noises and looking for any way to get away. 

Puppy with a chew

While it may not be possible to completely protect your dog from the crashes, bangs and whizzing sounds coming from outside, there are things you can do to lessen the impact. 

Here’s our top 7 distraction tips to help you get through bonfire night.

  1. Take your dog for a good walk during the day and don’t go out after dusk.
  2. Close the curtains early to block out any flashes going on outside and turn on the TV with the volume turned up a notch or two – an action-packed film with lots of noise is ideal and can help block out the sounds outside.
  3. Chewing helps your dog to release feel-good hormones and helps to calm them down.  Buy a new chew toy or make up a stuffed Kong full of tasty treats.  You can stuff a Kong with some soaked dog kibble then freeze it, ensuring your dog really has to work at getting the treats out and will keep him occupied for longer.   
  4. Buy a new toy that you know your dog will enjoy to distract him.  A squeaky toy may even help to disguise some of those bangs and whistles.
  5. Prepare a ‘den’ for your dog where they can feel safe – this could be their crate or a blanket draped over a table, you can encourage them to use this by providing them with a chew or a Kong, but don’t force them to stay there if they choose another spot in the house they prefer.
  6. If your dog loves to learn, bonfire night may be the perfect way to distract him by playing some fun games like hide and seek the treat or teaching him a new trick.  Use lots of rewards and verbal praise to keep him engaged.
  7. Don’t go out if at all possible – your dog will feel more relaxed if you are at home and you can give him some reassurance as he needs it you can also keep an eye on his stress levels and make sure he has everything he needs. If you’re calm and relaxed it will also help to reduce your dog’s anxieties. Don’t forget, it’s fine to give a tummy tickle or sitting down with him, but if he wants to find a safe space to hide, then that’s OK too!

If your dog really struggles around bonfire night and can’t be distracted from the noise or if he seems to be getting worse, then consider talking to your vet about a referral to an animal behaviourist who can offer professional support and advice.