It’s that time of year again when we start to celebrate all things spooky.
The young and young at heart have spent weeks planning their scariest costumes ready for Halloween, and days later we will light up the skies with displays of the brightest and loudest fireworks.
But while most people find these events fun, they can be terrifying for our furry companions.
As adults and children celebrate Halloween and Bonfire Night, hundreds of assistance dog owners up and down the country could find their highly-trained and invaluable lifeline traumatised by fireworks or trick or treaters and unable to do their important job.
But it’s not just assistance dogs that are affected by loud, noisy fireworks, excited children and frightening outfits - other pets inside and outside the home can get frightened too. That’s why assistance dogs charity Canine Partners has put together some tips of on how to keep your pets safe and happy at this time of year.
Alyssa Ralph, one of the charity’s dog welfare officers, said, "We strongly advise all our puppy parents, partners and foster parents not to let their dog go with them to the front door to greet trick or treaters. It’s best to keep them calm and quiet in another room in the house when going to the door.
"Dogs should not be taken to a fireworks display. They may be fun for people but they are terrifying for dogs. Try to plan ahead and take your pooch for a long walk before any evening activities start.
"And it’s important never to force a dog to dress up. If they are happy to wear a costume, make sure garments are flame resistant and don’t restrict movement.
"Meanwhile, any pets that usually like to be outdoors should be kept inside where possible, or kept in their safe outdoor housing. For example, people should make sure cats are indoors during the evenings rather than prowling the neighbourhood."
Alyssa suggests people follow the ROCKET code to help prevent pets from being traumatised by fireworks:
- Reduce outside noise in your house by closing windows and curtains and turning on a television or radio.
- Occupy pets with games or toys. This acts as a great distraction
- Calm and quiet behaviour should be rewarded, while anxious and worried behaviour should be ignored.
- Keep calm yourself – your anxiety can transfer to your pet.
- Early use of anti-stress aids can be beneficial.
- Time out in safe areas - pets often find their own safe place where they feel secure.
Canine Partners is a charity that provides assistance dogs that transform the lives of disabled people. For more information about Canine Partners visit caninepartners.org.uk.
This story is a guest submission and does not reflect the views of Dogs Monthly Magazine, always consult a qualified expert.
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