~ Unless you’re very fortunate, you will be hearing fireworks going off in the coming days, and probably have heard some already. They’ve been going off as I’ve been typing this.
Sadly more dogs go missing around this time of year, and New Year, due to being spooked by fireworks. I’ve already seen a number listed as lost on DogLost for this very reason. Please consider registering (free, quick and easy) with them if you haven’t already. Hopefully you will never need them, but you will be notified of any dogs who go missing in your immediate area, so you can help look out for them.
We can’t stop fireworks being set off currently, but we can take measures to try to keep our beloved dogs, and other animals, as safe and calm as possible. If you have a new foster dog, or you’ve just adopted one, please take extra care as you won’t yet know each other well and they may be extra stressed and more likely to bolt.
* Make sure your dog is wearing a readable and up to date ID tag on their collar, even if they are just popping into the garden with you, and even if they’re microchipped. If your dog does go missing, they’re most likely to be found initially by a member of the public. Most people can read an ID tag and have a phone and can contact you any time/day. Most people don’t have a microchip scanner, so a lack of ID tag will mean if someone does find your dog, you’ll be separated, unnecessarily, for longer while people make efforts to reunite you. Make sure your microchip details are up to date too – and you can have your dog scanned to make sure the chip is still being read.
* Try to get your dog out for walks/toilet breaks etc. before and after fireworks are likely to go off and keep them on a lead, even in the garden if there’s any possibility at all that they might panic and try to escape. If you have to open the front door for any reason, shut them somewhere safe first so that they won’t bolt out of the door. Put them on a lead to transfer them to and from the car, even if you don’t usually. If you have children and/or visitors, take extra care as they may not realise the risk of your dog panicking and escaping. Even dogs who wouldn’t normally try to escape may do so in fear
* Check fences etc. regularly to make sure they’re secure and there are no gaps for dogs to get over, especially in a panic. If you do need to take your dog out for a toilet break after dark, please keep them on a lead and STAY WITH THEM. Don’t leave them in the garden alone.
* Create a ‘den’ area for them, if they might benefit from this, away from the home’s external walls ideally.
* Try ‘deadening’ any firework noise by hanging things (blankets over curtains, for example, or towels) at the windows/door, shutting as many internal doors as possible etc. Having various sources of noise from within the room you’re in can help too. Perhaps save your washing so you can put the washing machine on, as that will help drown out some of the noise. There is currently bubble wrap stuck to the front window etc. here to help deaden the noise, in addition to blankets.
* Try stuffing a Kong with tasty things for your dog and having safe things that they can chew on, if they’re calm enough to be interested. Keep a supply of their favourite tasty treats too. You could do a mini training session in your living room perhaps to help focus them on something fun and rewarding :-) Make sure they have access to fresh water too. They may want to drink more if they’re stressed as well.
* There are various products such as Thundershirts, plug-ins, collars, remedies and supplements that may help your dog. Please speak to your vet if your dog is very frightened and you are worried about their health and wellbeing. They may be able to offer you supplements and/or medications for them and/or refer you to a qualified behaviourist if needed too.
* We’re a dog charity, but if your family includes non-canine animals, keep them as safe and protected from the noise and bright lights as possible too. Other animal-specific charities will likely provide advice.
* Last, but most definitely not least, offer your dog(s) calm and soothing comfort and reassurance if they seek it. Don’t ignore them. You will not reinforce your dog’s fear by helping to soothe them. If they’re happy to chill out in their den/bed/on the sofa, great, leave them be. If they want snuggles, snuggle them! :-)
We wish you all as peaceful a time as possible.