Bonfire Night is fast approaching. With no public displays this year, hopefully our pets, livestock and wildlife will have a bit of a break from the fear they can experience around this time. However, fireworks are still for sale and private back-garden displays may occur. This could make the noise just as scary but much less predictable than normal, so it pays to be prepared.
In our social media posts over the past few weeks we’ve talked about ways you can prepare your home and make adaptations to help your pets on Bonfire Night. One thing we’ve mentioned is building a den so pets can hide away. Hiding often helps our pets to feel more secure. This is something you can do to help dogs and cats; and the bedroom part of a hutch for rabbits or guinea pigs can be made more cosy and den-like too.
Here’s how to build the best den for your pet:
- Plan ahead
Build your den as soon as possible. There may be fireworks before November 5th so get the den in position so your pets have a bit of time to get used to it.
- Pick a suitable location
The den should be in a place that your pet feels comfortable. If, for example, you usually sit with your dog in the living room, a quiet corner in that room may be most suitable. If your cat hides under your bed when you have visitors; under your bed would be a great place for the den as it’s already a safe retreat. Some people use the bottom of a wardrobe with the doors open as it’s already cosy and enclosed on three sides - which is ideal so your pet feels protected but has a clear way out. Pick a place that’s calm; not a thoroughfare for the whole family. Ensure your pet can come and go as they please. As mentioned, the bedroom portion of the hutch is a great den for smaller mammals.
- Make sure it’s a sturdy structure
A crate may be the best den for dogs; a crate or sturdy cardboard box for cats. It needs to be strong enough to take the weight of blankets without collapsing. You do not need to add a box if your rabbits or guinea pigs have an enclosed area of their hutch; this will be perfect as the base for a den just as it is.
- Place comfy, familiar-smelling bedding in the bottom of the den
Your cat or dog’s favourite blanket is ideal as bedding in the den, or one of your worn (not freshly washed) jumpers is great if they would usually like to sleep on you. For rabbits and guinea pigs clothing is not a good idea but do provide plenty of their usual bedding so they can snuggle in to it.
- Cover the den for insulation
The aim is to insulate the den from noise so you can use old duvets, blankets, towels; whatever you have. Lay them over the den so that noise is muffled. You can do this to rabbit and guinea pig hutches too. It is important to make sure there is still an open front to the den so it is not fully enclosed, this will keep it well ventilated and allow your pet to come and go as they please.
- Place familiar toys in the den
Catnip can work really well with cats, familiar soft toys are good for dogs if your dog likes them. Never leave your pet unattended with toys that they may destroy and/or swallow
- Place treats in the den to encourage your pet inside
A few edible treats can work well to encourage your pet to use the den. Never force a pet in to a den; it’s there to help them cope with their fear if hiding is what they choose to do; pets cope in different ways so don’t be offended if they don’t use it…and never shut them in, this could make them feel trapped and enhance their fear.
If you have any further questions about building a den, please do give us a call for advice. We hope you all have a peaceful firework season.