We know you have heard it before and we will keep shouting it from the rooftops until we are hoarse! Setting your dog up for success is the no.1 key piece of advice we can give you. Instead of whacking the TV at full volume and hoping that Fido doesn’t hear a peep, trying to teach your dogs that the muffled pops and bangs are nothing to fear will give you a much greater chance at predicting their behaviour.
Our first piece of advice is therefore, to START NOW! Think of it a little bit like the dog version of Systematic Desensitisation. If you, as a human, had an intense fear of spiders, popping a huge tarantula on your hand and asking you to be relaxed would be a bit of a nightmare all around. You would (understandably) panic, the spider would freak out and be more likely to run, and you certainly wouldn’t be inviting us round for a cup of tea any time soon! Instead, if we gave you a month to slowly desensitise yourself to the idea of a spider, the feel of it in your hand and even how it looks, you would be more likely to understand that it’s not as much of a threat as you originally thought, and, though you still really don’t like it, we have removed much of the risk of panic!
It works in a similar way with dogs. If you gently (and we mean gently) expose your dogs to the necessary processes below that you will take during fireworks night, you have a greater chance of them understanding what is going on and that it’s not all new, scary and confusing. Even the cleverest of dogs get their tails in a knot with sudden changes in their routine, so try to introduce these slowly and positively with lots of nice and calm ‘good dog’s’ and food enrichment!
Our second top tip is the Adaptil plug in. This nifty piece of kit mimics the pleasing hormones that our dogs thrive off, and it’s a great way to encourage a calm and positive atmosphere in the home. This way, you can begin to interrupt the anxious pacing and cortisol production happening behind your dog’s eyes and give them more of a chance to make rational decisions.