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Ease firework related anxiety by building a den

With Bonfire Night fast approaching, it’s important that pet owners are prepared. If you’ve seen our comprehensive guide to keeping your pet calm, you’ll know that one of the things we recommend is building a hideaway where your pet feels comfortable.

The perfect hideaway will consist of shelter that dulls out the noise and flashes from fireworks, whilst it will also have a number of elements that actively help put your pet at ease. In this step-by-step guide we talk you through how to build your pet hideaway ahead of Bonfire Night.

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When should I build the hideaway?

We’re sure you’ll have remembered that Bonfire Night is on 5 November, but many firework displays start the weekend before. With this in mind, it’s worth getting everything set-up a couple of days before the weekend. This will ensure that your pet has time to get comfortable in their environment before any firework displays begin. If firework displays have already begun where you are, don’t panic, even actioning one or two of the steps below will help put your pet at ease.

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How to build your den

Follow this advice to help give your pet a hideaway on Bonfire Night where they feel safe and secure. You can follow as much of this advice as you like, but just taking note of a few of these steps will help ease their fear and anxiety.

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1. Pick a space

One of the most important parts of this task is choosing the right space. It’s important that you pick a room where your pet spends a lot of time and is comfortable, but at the same time, you need their den to be away from the windows where loud bangs and flashing lights will be harder to mask. We recommend choosing a corner of your living room where you spend a lot of time as a family, but if possible block out the windows with furniture.

2. Choose a crate or pet box that offers complete shelter

If you don’t already have one an animal crate is brilliant for building a hideaway because it offers your pet complete shelter when covered. Make sure the crate is big enough for your dog if you have a larger breed. For cats, it’s worth finding a bed with a roof on top of a tunnel, cats like to hide away when they are anxious and this offers the perfect solution. If you can’t find one big enough, but you feel your animal will benefit from a hideaway, improvise by using any furniture that they might like to hide under.

3. Use their favourite blankets, treats and toys

Filling their hideaway with their favourite blankets, treats and toys will help put them at ease. They will recognise their scent and associate their treats and toys with a more relaxed time. Remember, the hideaway is just temporary so make an effort to make it as comfortable as possible for your pet over the Bonfire Night weekend. You actively want them to go in there as it will offer more protection from outside noises and lights.

4. Dull the noise by covering the bed or crate

Covering their hideaway with old duvets or sleeping bags will help block out any excess noise and make it feel even more sheltered. When pets are anxious or scared they often hide and this will help create a more comfortable environment. Closing the curtains and playing the TV louder will also help block out further noise.

5. Use a pheromone product to help ease anxiety

Pheromone products imitate the scent of a pet’s mother which naturally helps them feel at ease. We offer a number of these products for both cats and dogs which do the trick. We stock Adaptil diffusers for dogs and Feliway for cats.

A few last things to remember

Preparation is everything and a hideaway will definitely help give your pet some shelter on Bonfire Night. However, it’s worth remembering that no matter what we try, it is sometimes not possible to put your pet completely at ease. Read our comprehensive guide for more advice on keeping your pet calm, but some quick points to remember are: –

  • Gentle reassurance will help put your pet at ease, but don’t overcompensate as they may sense something is wrong.
  • Play with your pet to distract them and take their mind off any noise outside. Giving them treats will also have the same effect.
  • Adjust your pet’s routine to ensure they are indoors before dark when the fireworks begin.
  • Although you’ve built a hideaway, be mindful that your pet might find another corner where they feel more comfortable.

BONFIRE NIGHT GUIDE

Read our comprehensive guide about how to keep your pet calm on Bonfire Night, featuring a wide range of tips from our lead vet, Dr Paul Adams.

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