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Guy Fawkes traumatic for animals

04 November 2011, 15:00

Animal behaviourist Bernice Jaffe writes:

Guy Fawkes has become quite a celebration for South Africans even though it really is not a South African celebration and while fireworks may look all nice and sound great to us, to our four legged friends it can be a traumatic experience.  

Remember that the hearing of a dog is so much better than ours so a bang to us is an explosion to them.  I cannot tell you how many calls I get from devastated dog owners whose pooches have gone missing during fireworks.  

The dogs have been so traumatised during the noise they have managed to escape from homes that are completely closed in. The pooches are so freaked out that they will do anything to get either away from the noise or run to where they think their owners are.

The effects of the noise can be long lasting, sometimes resulting in nervous, aggressive and damage-causing behaviour.  Animals have been attacked with fireworks – thrown at, i.e. chased after and some have even attached fireworks to animals, causing there extreme pain and suffering.

So it is advisable firstly to make sure you do not leave your pooches on their own.  Take them for a good walk before the evening starts and settle down in a nice cosy room with the curtains closed and the TV or sound system up loudly.  Get a big bag of something really yummy like roast chicken or biltong and whenever the firework goes throw your pooch a piece of the yummy treats.  

Bear in mind, you must start this exercise when your puppy is young and not when it is already petrified of the fireworks.  Make sure that if puppy starts acting nervous you do not say anything to them or stroke them as all they will remember is that they got rewarded for being nervous.  

The minute they are confident give them a treat or a calm stroke. If your pooches really cannot cope try to organise something from your vet before the night and give it to them before the fireworks start.

So let’s all do the rain dance and hope that Guy Fawkes will be cancelled this year.  

Bernice Jaffe - animal behaviourist.

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