Here are some useful tips from Finsbury Park’s dog expert Sue Evans of Alpha Dog Training London.
For pets sensitive to fireworks their response usually takes two forms – either to run and hide or to stay close to you.
If your pet wishes to hide, let it – ideally provide a small cosy covered area, protected from seeing the flashes of light which accompany the whistles and explosive bangs. Do not try to coax your pet out of their ‘safe’ place as in doing so, your sweet words will either sound like ‘praise’ or appear that you are worried too, and worse still, if your pet does come to you and another bang follows, it might lose even more trust in you.
If your pet wants to be close to you, be as normal as possible and when you are able, sit down and let it sit next to you, cuddle it firmly to keep it as still as possible. Being relaxed and breathing normally (slightly emphasising the breath out with a slight audible sigh) will show your pet you are not worried, which will reassure it in a way that they understand … be a calm role model.
Ensure your pets are indoors, the curtains are closed and the television is on with the sound at a good level to mask out some of the background noise. Be as normal as possible to show your pet you are not worried, breath as above, laugh at a TV programme and chat – easier if you have company – but you could call a friend.
If you know your pet is distressingly scared, your vet can help. But be aware that some traditional meds have only proven to help mask signs of fear despite the animal being petrified inside. Some have a calming effect based on the ingredients of mother milk, but that may need to be built up in their system, so could be a bit late to benefit this year. Simply, increasing carbohydrates (potato/pasta) in their meal can help release chemicals in the brain which have a calming affect (PetVet Leaflet), so do give that a try.
Finally, if you see a problem, do try to prepare your pet for the future, you can use sounds sensitive CDs and videos, and get them used to flashes (e.g. from a camera) and build up bangs (dropping items occasionally) little and often, all without looking at or trying to reassure your pet … spend a bit of time during the year to make noise ‘normal’.