Remember remember the 5th of November

02/11/2017

Remember remember the 5th of November

With the long summer evenings, flip flops and ice creams now a distant memory, we can excitedly look forward to all that autumn brings – for those of us with dogs, this includes the joy of long muddy dog walks and crunching through fallen leaves.  Autumn also brings with it one of our favourite events, Bonfire Night, a long-standing tradition that brings pleasure to children and adults alike.

 

But this event can also bring stress and worry for our pets who simply do not understand the joy of standing in a cold field, oohing and aahing at bright lights in the sky. Puppies in particular can find these events terrifying if not given the help and support to learn how to cope.  Here we have some pointers to help you to prepare your puppy for pops, bangs, whizzes!

 

  1. Please note if your puppy/dog is already showing signs of anxiety around loud noises or fireworks, you will need to contact a fully qualified behaviourist who will be able to work with you to address the problem – see www.apbc.org.uk to find a member.

 

A safe place

It is a great idea to ensure that all puppies have their own den, a safe haven tucked in a corner of the family home, where they can retreat to, and feel safe, whenever things get too much. It might be a crate (with the door left open) if the puppy is happily crate-trained, or it may just be a comfortable bed, positioned between a wall and the arm of the sofa.  The puppy should be allowed to enter their safe space whenever they choose and a house rule should be set that they should not be interrupted whilst there.  This helps puppies to learn that they are safe, making them feel more confident.  Think about how comforting it feels to sit on the sofa with a duvet over you and a cup of your favourite hot chocolate when you are feeling a little low.  It’s the same for our puppies – make a positive association now and they will choose to retire to their den whenever they feel the need for a rest from the household antics, be it Bonfire Night filled, or at any other busy times.

 

Sounds scary?

There are several sounds programmes on the market that will help you to prepare your puppy to cope with a wide range of everyday sounds.  Research shows that puppies that are safely and gradually exposed to different sounds during their early socialisation period (3-16 weeks of age) are often able to cope more effectively with novel, frightening sounds.  The Dogs Trust offers a free downloadable sounds programme, and accompanying booklet, which is proved to be effective, safe and easy to use.  For more information, or to download the programme, visit https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets

 

Alternatively, you can order the Puppy School Sounds for Life CD from the Puppy School website.  Visit http://www.puppyschoolshop.co.uk/home/9-sounds-for-life-cd.html

 

Learn to speak dog

Dogs (including puppies) are able to tell us everything we need to know about how they are feeling, through their body language – we just need to learn to read this new, foreign language!  Anxious dogs will show their distress through a range of behaviours from licking their lips to yawning, turning their head away, shaking or panting.  If we, as owners, can become skilled at reading the early signs that our puppies are feeling a little uncomfortable about a situation, we can take action to make them feel better.  This in turn helps them to feel more confident in the future.  When reassuring your puppy, do so in a jolly way rather than being too sympathetic, which could come across as being anxious yourself.  But don’t be afraid to support them, they will thank you for it!

 

Enjoy your Autumn, embrace the change of season and look forward to the celebrations.  If you can take on board some of the points above, they will help to ensure that your puppy has as fantastic a time as you. 

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