What to remember before the fifth of November

19 OCTOBER 2020

19 OCTOBER 2020

With 5 November fast approaching,  Battersea is urging owners to begin to prepare their pets now for Bonfire Night – especially puppies who may never have experienced fireworks before.

The much-loved animal charity is warning that as many mass events may be cancelled due to Covid-19, more people than ever may be setting off fireworks in their own gardens, which means pets will have more noises and flashing lights to cope with than usual.

Fireworks may look pretty, but many animals, particularly dogs, find them frightening. However, there are steps owners can take in advance to help keep their pets calm.  

Ali Taylor, Head of Canine Behaviour and Training at Battersea advises:

“Bonfire Night might look very different this year, with lots of people setting off fireworks in their own gardens at different times. This lack of predictability means it’s more important than ever to put in work now to prepare your dog and help them associate the noises and lights with something positive rather than scary.

“We know many people have new puppies now and this is their chance to prepare them with some simple changes in routine.

“Try playing audio recordings of fireworks at a very low volume whilst engaging in fun activities with your dog such as a bit of training, or toy play.

“If you already know that your dog is scared of fireworks it’s best to try and desensitise them to the noises and sounds as far in advance as possible as this can take months of regular training.

“Dogs may choose to hide if they are worried by the fireworks, so set up a cosy den area and start to encourage your dog to choose to settle in there use it by hiding some tasty treats.”

How to desensitise your dog to loud noises:

  • Before you start, you will need to buy or stream some related sound effects or noises, such as fireworks, and have some way of playing them out loud. You will need to do this training with your dog indoors, away from distractions.
  • Get your dog settled in the room and play the sounds they are least scared of at the lowest possible volume. Gradually increase the volume, until you see the first signs that your dog is reacting to the noise. Once your dog starts to react, leave the sounds at that volume for a few minutes to let them get used to it.
  • If your dog starts to become stressed by the noise, remain calm and stop immediately. Next time play the sounds at a lower volume.
  • Play the sounds at this low level for 5-10 minutes, 3-4 times a day. Once your dog has stopped responding to the noise, you can turn the volume up slightly, until they begin to respond again. Again, if your dog shows any signs of stress, stop the sounds and start at a lower volume the next day.
  • Keep playing the sounds in this way daily, over a period of weeks, until your dog no longer reacts to the sounds, even at a higher volume. Once your dog is used to these loud noises you can start to build a positive association to them.
  • Start playing the sounds at a low volume and start to give your dog food or play with them and a toy. Once your dog has finished eating or playing, turn off the noises straight away. This way they will start to associate the sounds with enjoyable experiences.
  • Do this a few times over the course of a few days until your dog starts to get excited when they hear the sounds. Once your dog has made this initial connection you can begin to increase the volume a little each time.
  • If your dog is still stressed by loud noises after trying these steps, you should consult your vet for further advice.

For more information on dogs and fireworks, please visit www.battersea.org.uk.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • You can find more information on fireworks regulations here- https://www.gov.uk/fireworks-the-law
  • Since Battersea was founded 160 years ago, we’ve been committed to helping every dog and cat that needs us - championing their rights, loving their imperfections and expertly caring for them. Because rescue is our favourite breed.
  • We’re reliant on the generosity of the public to continue to fund our vital work helping dogs and cats and the people who care for them. Now more than ever, we need funds to enable us to continue to be here for every dog and cat.
  • Battersea directly helps over 5,000 dogs and cats across its three centres and uses its expertise, influence, and voice to help thousands more animals all over the country and across the world.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at Battersea, but the average stay for a dog is 34 days and 25 days for a cat.
  • In addition to the site in South West London, Battersea also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
  • To donate to Battersea, visit https://donate.battersea.org.uk.
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or facebook.com/Battersea