Guy Fawkes Night, or bonfire night, means fireworks will be exploding all around the country. Whether you’re holding your own party, heading to an organised display or avoiding it altogether, it can be a distressing time for pets, particularly cats and dogs.
But there are various steps you can take to help keep them calm, including playing music, putting the TV on and – of course – being there with them.
Not all pets are bothered by the noise, but if yours is, here are five ways you can use your Amazon Echo and Alexa (and your other gadgets) to soothe them and reduce stress, along with some top tips from animal welfare charity
And you can use these any time, not just on 5 November.
1. Ask Alexa to play music
Having music on, say Battersea, can reduce the sudden impact of firework sounds. So, as it gets dark in the evenings around 5 November, ask Alexa to play music.
You can play the radio, but for music, you’ll need to have a subscription for one of the supported
2. Use Alexa skills
Similar to playing music, there are skills available, which you can browse in the Alexa app such as “Comfort my dog” and “Calm my cat”. You simply need to enable these before saying “Alexa, open comfort my dog” or whatever the skill is called.
There’s a fairly obvious theme here, but one of Battersea’s tips is to leave the TV on to help anxious pets during fireworks. Lots of dogs love watching nature shows and cartoons.
4. Create an Alexa routine
Another way tech can help is to set up a routine that’s triggered when Alexa hears a dog barking. This one’s more reactive and potentially more suitable when you’re not expecting fireworks or other loud noises to disturb your dog while you’re out.
When barking is detected, you could configure the routine to play a playlist of calming music and turn on smart lights.
The sound of your voice can have a calming effect, and you can use the drop-in function (or announcement) on an Amazon Echo so they can hear you when you’re out. Similarly, many
home security cameras offer two-way talk and, naturally, also let you keep an eye on your pets from afar.
Again, if you can, it’s best not to leave them alone on firework night if you know they’re anxious.
If you have a dog, then you have the opportunity to train it to associate loud noises with something positive, rather than negative. Battersea’s video offers advice on how to go about this, but as with all training, it’s not instant, so plan it for future fireworks events:
There are other things you can do, too. Ali Taylor, Head of Canine Behaviour and Training at Battersea says: “Fireworks season can be a scary time for our pets, however, there are things that you can do at this time of year to help a nervous animal. Timing your dog walks earlier in the evening when fireworks aren’t being let off or ensuring your curtains are drawn are both good ways to help, as well as using your devices to turn lights on in the evenings, play calming music or switch on the TV – which will all help to buffer the noise and sight of fireworks.”
“Animals may choose to hide if they are worried by the fireworks, so set up a cosy den area and start to encourage your pet to choose to settle in there by hiding some tasty treats. If you know that your pet has severe reactions to fireworks, consider talking to your vet ahead of the celebrations to see if there’s any medications they can provide to help with their anxiety, and we’d always recommend not leaving them on their own”.