It’s that time of year when fireworks will be exploding all over the place. An enormous bang from a nearby bonfire shook our windows last year.

The fizz and flash emanating from skyward rockets can take an unsuspecting dog by surprise.

Fireworks have a distinctive smell and even working gundogs know it’s not a normal working day and can become completely overwhelmed.

As dog owners we can’t change the world we live in. We can only help our dogs cope with the world as it is.

It’s our duty to ensure they are equipped to deal with anything modern society throws at them and fireworks is one of the worst.

On no account must you pet and fuss your dog when he’s nervous. I’ve tried this many times and all the dogs saw was my uncertainty which created more nervous behaviour.

In any threatening situation dogs learn to mimic our attitude. They take their lead from our reaction to stimulus.

If we show little concern, eventually they adopt the same attitude but it does take time.

I never expose my dogs deliberately to fireworks. I don’t have to as we are subjected to them throughout November. I don’t change anything in their routine whatsoever.

If they happen to be in the garden for toilet duty when a firework explodes nearby I just ignore it.

I have a small enclosure for the dogs so they can’t bolt away. I just stand close by supervising them as usual.

In the house, I draw the curtains after dark as normal and turn on the TV. The young dogs observe the older ones and copy their indifference.

I don’t give extra reward or show any recognition of the explosions going on outside and pretty soon neither do they.

I have in the past used a CD recording of fireworks to prepare them for bonfire night and it certainly helped but in the end it all comes down to leadership and if ever there was a time to be a strong leader this is it.

By Guardian columnist The Dogfather.

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