You have probably all guessed by now that I am not one of those hide in the corner and shake types on Bonfire Night; No! I am one of those who shouts very loudly at every strange noise and feel like my house is under attack. Both of these types of behaviour show a certain level of stress and so I have decided to investigate further. There are lots of things your human can do to help ease your stress. Several weeks before fireworks season, it is worth going through some de-sensitisation with a fireworks CD.
If your human can distract you a little with some fun play it can help to associate fun with the fireworks. There are also products on the market that can help. Adaptil (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) promotes a feeling of comfort and safety and if used correctly, can work well in conjunction with the CD. There are also a number of herbal remedies available; most contain chamomile (anti-anxiety) and valerian (sedative effect). There are a few like MagiCalm and Serene-UM Calm Xtra that utilise certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids (L-Tryptophan) to have a calming effect. Another well known product is Zylkene, this contains a protein that temporarily works on receptors in the brain to have a calming influence. Another product, (which I have been told by friends works well) is the ThunderShirt. Apparently it uses gentle hugging to calm you – I have to admit if my human was not around I would take any hug I could get! It is believed that the pressure from the shirt has a calming effect on the nervous system and possibly causes calming hormones to be released. Finally, it may be worth getting your human to mask the noise of fireworks by having the TV or radio on and distracting you with a game. Also your human could set you up a nice, cosy hideaway with toys and water inside so you can go in there if it all gets too much. I know it is hard for them but please remind humans not to pat or sooth you while you are stressed as this merely confirms that you are correct to be scared and rewards your fearful behaviour. Let’s all pray for heavy rain every night for the weeks surrounding bonfire night and if all else fails, be strong and hold your heads (and tails) up high!