How to make a den for your pet

by PDSA | 21 October #Lifestyle

With firework season well on the way, it’s pretty understandable that our pets can get a bit twitchy. A lot of pets get really spooked by fireworks, so the best thing we can do as owners is make it as easy as possible for our pets.

Now, in an ideal world, our pets wouldn’t be scared of fireworks. Or all fireworks would be silent. You can actually help de-sensitise your pet to fireworks over time – check out our page on fireworks and pets for full info.

But, for those of us with scaredy cats and dogs who may have left it a little late this year for any de-sensitising, we need a plan B. In this case, the best option is to make nights you know there will be fireworks as stress-free as possible for your furry friend. This can involve lots of different things (for full details, see our firework page), but in particular we’re focusing on making a den for your pet.

We all wish we could hide from our problems, but fortunately for our dogs and cats this actually is an option (lucky them). One of the best things you can do to help your pet through firework night is to make them a nice safe den where they can hide away and feel secure.

Today, we’ll be making a den for (sort of) willing participant and fireworks scaredy cat, Dotty:

Tortoiseshell cat lying down

*Dotty is a bit chunky, but rest assured she is on a diet!

 

Step one – choose your space

Space for den

The first thing you need to do is pick the perfect location for your den. This might be somewhere your pet likes to hide already (like behind the sofa or under a bed, in which case move straight on to making it cosy!) or it might be somewhere you will be when there’s fireworks so they can feel safe.

In Dotty’s case, we’ve chosen a spot she likes sitting in in the living room. It’ll be warm, all the curtains will be shut, the TV will be on to drown out bangs and her owners will be in there with her (she’s pretty needy and likes company).

Step two – create a safe space

Cardboard box in space for den

Most dogs and cats feel safer with something around them – for example, a box, crate or igloo bed. Make sure whatever you choose is large enough for your pet to get in, turn around and lie down in. With dogs, a crate is probably the better option as it’s sturdier than a box!

Some cats prefer to be up high to feel safe. If this is the case, you can pop an igloo bed up somewhere but make sure it’s secure. The last thing you need is for your cat to fall off a high shelf and get even more stressed out!

For Dotty, we’ve gone with a cardboard box. She loves boxes and it’ll be something she’ll happily go and explore on her own anyway.

Step three – make it cosy

Den building process

You’ll want to make your pet’s den as cosy as possible to a) help them feel safe and b) absorb some of the firework noises. This is where you can go full den, by covering your box or crate with lots of blankets! Note: if you’re using a box, make sure it’s sturdy and won’t collapse under your blanket den.

Inside, you can also use cushions, blankets and familiar items of clothing that smell of you to help comfort your pet and make it a nice comfy space. If your pet has a favourite blanket to lie on, use this inside the den.

For Dotty, we’ve got an assortment of blankets and put her favourite ones inside.

Step four – personalise

Finished cat den for firework night

To make your pet feel really happy and relaxed in their new den, pop in a few of their favourite toys to keep them occupied while there are fireworks. For Dotty, we’ve popped in a ball she likes and a catnip toy.

If your pet seems a tad unsure of their new den at first, pop a few tasty treats in there and give them lots of praise when they go to explore. They’ll soon love it!

The verdict?

Tortoiseshell cat in home-made den

Well, Dotty seems pretty chuffed with her new den (mostly). Remember to keep the curtains closed on fireworks night and follow the full advice on our page!

 

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