It’s never too early to prepare your dog for the firework season. Whilst we’re all enjoying the summer holidays, it sounds crazy to think that the fireworks will be starting soon, but I remember with my old boy, who had a morbid fear of fireworks, that home displays or kids messing around can start as early as mid September. Whilst the law states that fireworks can only be retailed during the two weeks prior to 5th November, but online suppliers sell all year round, making all of the of the autumn and winter months a potential nightmare for dogs with noise phobias. But fear not! With lots of patience, foresight and planning, you should be able modify your dog’s anxiety during the bangs and whizzes. Here are my top tips. Please add your own tips and hopefully we can have lots of chilled doglets this autumn! ……. Desensitise him by playing a fireworks cd on the lowest volume, whilst you carry on with your day to day routine. Initially, play the cd so quietly that you can’t hear it – he will still be able to hear it! After a week or so, turn up the volume a touch. And the week after turn it up a touch more and so on. Be sure not to fuss your dog whilst the cd is playing, this will reinforce any anxiety he feels towards the sounds and potentially make his problem worse. If you build up gradually and play the cd many times each day, you should see that he barely notices even the loudest of noises. As the cd volume increases, you can introduce a game so that he forms a positive association with happy games and loud noises. The earlier you start with this method, the more success you’ll have, so don’t leave it until the middle of October! Consider his environment. Provide your dog with a bolt-hole to run to if he feels threatened by the noises. Most dogs with noise phobias will appreciate somewhere to feel safe whilst ww3 kicks off outside … Does Rover use a crate? If he does you should cover it with a heavy/thick blanket which will give him that extra feeling of security and help to block out flashes and noises. If he doesn’t use a crate and you don’t want to introduce one, find an area in the family room where he prefers to retreat to if he is unsure of something. This may be in a corner of the room or underneath a table for eg. Now try and find a way to make that area enclosed and covered, use blankets and chairs to create a little den. Or alternatively find a sturdy cardboard box just big enough for him to curl up in and cut out one side as a door (white goods boxes work well for large breeds). Encourage your dog to use this area as his safe space and reward him with high value toys or bones when he is in there. Don’t fuss him or try to cuddle him or offer words of sympathy or reassurance because this will only reinforce any anxiety he is feeling and potentially make his problem worse. He is looking to you to be a leader and you should demonstrate that there is nothing to be feared by remaining calm and going about your usual business. This flies in the face of everything we want to do as caring humans, but our dogs are not human and we need to be careful not to send them conflicting signals. Playing happy games is ok, but don’t force him if he is struggling to deal with the noise. Mask the fireworks as best as possible by turning the radio or tv to the highest volume level you (or your neighbours) can tolerate. Practice this many times before the firework season so that your dog doesn’t form a negative association with a loud tv and impending fireworks. If possible have a loud radio right next to your dog’s crate. Exercise before dusk and more than usual so that Rover is tired and has toileted. Consider introducing herbal remedies (such as Rescue Remedy and Valerian) several weeks before firework season so that their properties can take effect. Try an Anxiety Wrap - Home Page (I can’t recommend these enough, I had huge success with mine!). Or try a close fitting dog T-shirt instead if the Anxiety Wrap is too pricey. The idea is that this wrap offers a secure feeling and helps your dog to relax, think of it along the lines of swaddling a baby. Please try every other alternative before accepting sedatives from the vets…. I was horrified when my vet explained that the dog can still hear the fireworks and is still stressed but because he is sedated he simply can’t move and express his fear Anyone else got some hot tips?