Autumn is one of our favourite seasons. It’s full of the best seasonal events, kicking off with Halloween and Bonfire Night. The startling flashes and loud noises that come with them can cause problems for dogs each year however, and it can often take a while before your dog realises that no harm comes from them. If you’re worried about how your dog will react to loud bangs, there are plenty of things you can do in preparation to make party season a far more comfortable experience for both you and your dog.
What can owners do in preparation?
- Gradually expose your dog to the sound of loud bangs. In the long run, this will help your dog to get used to the loud noises and bangs and relieve anxiety. You can purchase or download noise phobia CDs and play them to get your dog used to different noises in the run up to the night.
- Create a den or safe zone for your dog with blankets, dog beds and comforters. This could be created behind the sofa, under a table or any other place where your dog can retreat to in order to feel safe.
- Pheromone plug in diffusers and nutritional supplements can be used as calming aids. They can reduce anxiety and stress levels but aren’t necessarily a true solution to severe noise phobias in dogs.
- For dogs that are extremely scared, your vet may be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medications or sedatives. This should only be for dogs that are extremely scared and likely to cause themselves harm through their panic.
On evenings where fireworks or loud noises are certain, such as Bonfire Night and New Years Eve, walk your dog earlier in the day so that they can enjoy a walk without fear. They can then settle for the night in the comfort of their own home without having to confront the outside. If the bangs are particularly loud even when inside, you can attempt to drown out some of the noises by leaving on the TV, radio or music playing at a relatively loud volume. Some panicked dogs may try to run and escape upon hearing loud bangs, so be sure to keep windows and doors closed.
Head Vet Sean says: “Never punish your dog for acting fearfully as this will make the behaviour worse but also be aware of comforting or reassuring your dog too much if he is panicking or acting fearful. This can reinforce the behaviour because he will seek reassurance by acting even more fearfully in future.”
Don’t forget to reward your dog when they are calm and relaxed around loud noises! They’ve done a good job at not being scared and they deserve to know it.