Firework Fright & Dogs Information

Firework Fright & Dogs Information

Rachael’s collection of recent articles and videos on Firework Fright and Dogs is here.

Please click in the sections below to be redirected to each item in a new tab.

1. Safety First

In this first article, Rachael talks about the safety aspects around the firework season and give some simple, helpful but not always obvious advice on how to keep our animals safe.

2. Body Language

In the second article, Rachael gives insight on how our dog’s reactions are often influenced by our reaction and in particular our own body language and eye contact.

3. Building a Den

Giving our dogs an easily accessible place of safety can be a significant way that we can help our dogs to cope.

 4. Tellington TTouch

Have fun this evening!Rachael demonstrates how some very easy TTouch moves can help both our dogs and ourselves re-balance towards calmness.

Fireworks Fright and Dogs 4 – Using Tellington TTouch to Calm Your Dog

What is TTouch and how does it work?

Tellington TTouch is an easily learnt technique that can have a dramatic effect on your animal’s wellbeing.  Tension within your dog’s body can cause them to react in a fearful or anxious way to situations (such as loud noises or trips to the vet); removing this tension using light circular TTouches and reconnecting their brains with their bodies allows them to think and cope better in potentially frightening situations.

The premise is that tension within the body (physical) creates an imbalance that manifests in behaviour, confidence, and/or health. This implies that by resolving the bodily tension, other issues can be relieved. Tension, or tightness, can be held within the body long after the cause has stopped, whether it’s from injury, anxiety/stress, or just the day-to-day rough and tumble that our dogs get up to from the day they are born.

Using TTouch for Firework Fears in Dogs

Tension associated with sound sensitivity may be found around the ears, back of the neck and top of the head, and it’s wonderful to watch a dog relax into TTouch Ear-Work. The following video demonstrates how to do it:-

I advise practicing this every day, whenever you can. Relaxation has a cumulative effect, and the more we do it (plural) the more it sticks and becomes the new habit to hold within the body.

Checklist for Tellington TTouch

  • Make contact with both hands
  • Mindful strokes over the dog’s body
  • Imagine a clock face, where 6 is towards the ground, and 12 is towards the sky
  • Create tiny one and a quarter clockwise circles using just enough pressure to move the skin. If you find your fingers slipping over the fur, you are either using too little pressure, or doing too large circles (aim for 1/4” to start)
  • Focus on keeping the circle round and even
  • Take between 1 and 3 seconds per circle
  • Move your fingers along and create another circle and a quarter
  • Observe your dog’s responses. You are aiming for them to be calm, relaxed and relatively still. Any movement and return to an area where they were still for you. Return to the spot which elicited a movement and see if they move again. If they do, make a mental note that there may be tension there and work your way back gradually.
  • Try different speeds and pressures to find if your dog has a preference.
  • Support the ear with one hand, and work the circles or slides with the other.
  • Remember to breathe and be mindful. Place your focus on what you are feeling in your hands, with light attention on the dog’s response.
  • Did I say breathe?
  • If you are able to do circular movements on the gums, you may need a dish of water to moisten your fingers if the gums are dry.
  • Try a soft brush (like a blusher brush) on the face, or a soft cloth to make the circles with if your dog is particularly sensitive.
  • Finish the session with more mindful strokes.

If you are unsure about what you are doing, which is completely natural when you start, watch the video again, then practice the circles on your arm; play around with the pressure, and the speed to experience how they feel. Work on your own ears and face.

If you are still unsure and would like to know more, go to to find a local practitioner. Many run workshops to help with firework fright too.

When to do it and frequency –

Now, it’s time to call your dog to you, to get them comfortable and to give it a go. Start with a couple of circles, then give them a short break to process them. Do a couple more with a short break and just see where you end up. I recommend starting to use Ear Work as soon as you can, do it at least daily, and then, during fireworks season, get yourselves comfortable around dusk and have a session before the noises start. If anything goes “bang” while you are working on them, just exhale, look away, and soften your shoulders. If your dog is happy to stay with you, carry on with the TTouches, if not, just let them go to their dens.


Firework Fright and Dogs 3 – Building a Den

If your dogs are anything like mine, and many others, as soon as there is a bang, they will head off for somewhere dark, enclosed, and small! Meg used to go under my chest of drawers until I made her a cosy den with a crate, a duvet and lots of padding.

The following video shows how to create a safe haven during fireworks season.


The things to remember are:

  • set the den up in a quiet corner, in the main room if that is where they like to be;
  • if you are using a crate, cover as much of it as you can with a duvet or blankets, to ensure most of the light is blocked out, and any sounds are well muffled;
  • consider using old pillows to create bumpers around the inside which will give your dog something to push their backs into;
  • pad the bottom well, and use enough bedding that they will be comfortable, without getting too hot or too chilly;
  • give them something to chew whilst in there (like a stuffed Kong, knuckle bone, etc.);
  • keep the entrance accessible, but easy to cover over when the dog is in;
  • if there are lights near the den, switch them off when the dog is in residence;
  • Rules one, two and three are – WHEN YOUR DOG IS IN THEIR DEN – DO NOT DISTURB. No peeking, no poking, no nuffink! Leave them alone! It’s THEIR space. If they want your company, they will find you.
  • Breathe.

If you have no access to a crate or handy chest of drawers as in the video, use your imagination. You can drape a duvet over the back of a sofa and create a tube/tunnel with the bed tucked inside, of kit out a large cardboard box. Go and have fun with it.

Encourage your dog inside their new safe place with treats, or by tossing a toy in. Don’t worry if they show little interest in it to start with -it’s just to let them know it’s there.

Enjoy the process…

Meg in her den

Meg in her den



Firework Fright and Dogs 2 – Body Language

Who’s watching who?

Eye contact is a very human thing; we seek it out to help us “read” the other person, they are, after all, the windows of the soul. Are they happy, sad, telling the truth, needing reassurance? The animals in our home become pseudo-humans and eye-contact becomes the norm. Dogs get used to it.

Or do they?

Most of the time, yes, they do, and the majority are completely comfortable with it. However, and this is a major point, there are times when eye-contact is just plain inappropriate. Instead of reassuring them, we will add to their anxiety and help to confirm that there is something to be scared about.

How does this work?

Every day our dogs check in on us to see what response from them is called for. If they see us carry on on with our daily business (I.e paying no heed to the stimulus) and also paying the dog no heed, then the dog assumes there’s no big deal and they carry on with whatever they were doing (sleeping, looking out of the window, chewing the table-leg, etc.).

Some dog trainers and behaviourists have interpreted this process and drawn the conclusion that the dog needs to be ignored. I completely and utterly disagree with this conclusion. Have you ever been ignored, and felt frustration and rejection? Its unpleasant. Why be unpleasant to your dog, especially at this time of year when anxiety levels are potentially rising?

The process of using eye-contact applied to firework fears is this –

  • **BANG**
  • Dog looks to the person and seeks eye-contact (the question being asked is, that big noise there, sounded scary. How are you reacting? Are you scared too?)

The choice for the person now is :

Either – look at the dog (this gives the dog the message – that big noise there, sounded scary. How are you reacting? Are you scared too? I.e what are YOU going to do about that big scary noise out there?


Or – look away from the dog (giving the message, nope, didn’t hear anything that bothered me. Everything is completely right with the world)


When my Meg was a tiny pup (I think she was about 9 or 10 weeks old), I was asleep on the sofa with her one night and there was a huge thunderstorm. Having had a dog who was terrified of thunder and fireworks, I was determined to avoid this from a very early age, so when I felt her head lift up I knew what I had to do.

I looked away from her.

That’s all I did. I just looked away.

I could feel her looking at my face for a moment longer, then her head returned to my chest and she was snoring gently moments later.

**BANG**. Problem? No problem.

If this is your dog or puppy’s firework’s season, it’s a great foundation to build for them.

Just look away. Avoid eye contact.

If you know you have a sound sensitive dog, throughout the fireworks season, each time your dog seeks your eyes, just look away. Turn your eyes, and your head away. If they continue to look at your face, then turn your eyes and head in the opposite direction.

Instruct anyone in house (whether resident or visiting) to avoid eye contact with your animals. It’s far better phrased as something to do (after all, if I ask to not to think about Elvis up a tree in a Superman outfit strumming a purple cat, what are you thinking about?) as opposed to not do.

NOTE – many of our dogs seek eye contact for other reasons too, often to say “I love you” or “where’s my dinner?”. It needs to be in context. If there’s stuff going on “out there” that could be perceived as a cause for anxiety, then look away. If it’s feeding time, or your hound is feeling like sharing the lurv, then you choose. My advice to anyone with a particularly anxious dog is to just go for no eye-contact until the season is over – just in case.

The second, and very important part of this process is –


When our companions are struggling we feel for them, and so desperately want them to cope and feel calm again. In this process WE get tense and forget to breathe, or our breathing gets very shallow. Guess what? Our dogs pick up on this and adds to their anxiety, which makes us more tense and so on.

  • Break the cycle and BREATHE.


Practice this – every time your dog looks at you or you look at your dog’s face, look away from their eyes. Really turn your head to one side, then turn to the other, and see how they respond.

While you are turning your head away, exhale through your mouth. Make it so your dog can hear you exhale.

Each time you turn away, exhale.

Simple as that – turn away and exhale. Breathe.

When the fireworks start this evening, and you feel your dog looking to you, you’ll know exactly what to do.


You can continue your conversation, you can talk to the dog, you can be singing along to X-Factor, or doing a tango around the living room

Have fun this evening!

Mutley says, have fun this evening!

to Strictly. Life continues. Everyone is safe.

Enjoy yourselves!


Firework Fright and Dogs – Safety First.

The smell of autumn is tickling our senses, as well as those of our dogs. Those who are fearful of the loud bangs know that Fireworks Season has returned. Dogs learn by association, so their anticipation will be rising – autumnal smells, the nights drawing in, the fire being lit or the heating being turned on. Having been through a tough time last year with your dog, your feelings will be rising too; I hear so much anger expressed about the public displays, and the general public having access to explosives (that’s another topic, and I promise to keep off my soapbox), because so many of our companions struggle at this time of year. This anger and frustration will be felt by them too, so if you are able to,


  • Keep calm and focus on getting your animals comfortable.


As we cannot stop the fireworks, we need to find ways to keep our dogs (and cats) comfortable, calm and safe. There are actually several things we can do to support, calm and protect.


I will start with “protect”. Here are 7 things you can be getting on with now:-


  • Call your dog(s) to you and check their collar(s). Are there any nicks in the webbing/leather or signs of wear? Is the ring damaged? If yes to either of these questions, consider replacing the collar. Tighten up the collar to ensure it’s harder to slip out of (not too tight – they still need to breathe and be comfortable, but not so loose that it can slide off over their ears).
  • Equipment – check leads and harnesses as you did the collar. Any damage causes a weakness and damaged webbing can snap. Replace if necessary.
  • Contact details. If your dog hasn’t got a ID tag, get one sorted TODAY! You can buy them online, from many pet stores, and key cutters will make one up cheaply too. Check that the attaching ring is strong and hasn’t been caught on anything which may have started to open it up. I have lost several this way (two last year from attaching the lead to it instead of the collar by mistake!).
  • Buy a second, narrow collar for your dog, attach the dog tag to it and place this collar BELOW the one you attach the lead to. This will
    Mutley sporting his double collar.

    Mutley sporting his double collar.

    ensure that if your dog panics and slips out of their main collar they at least will still have a form of ID.

  • Microchip – if your dog has one, contact the company they are registered with and check that your details are up to date. It’s a brilliant system, but you can only be found if your address and telephone number are correct. Make it easy for the wardens, vets and rescue centres. If you are unsure of the number, your vet surgery will be happy to scan your dog and give it to you and tell you the name of the company whose chip it is. Many independent rescue centres have a chip registered to them – it’s always worth checking that the rescue is still operating. If your dog DOESN’T have a microchip, book them in and get one done. Most rehoming centres do them, and all vets.
  • Consider a harness and a double-ended lead; attach one end of the lead to the harness, and the other to the collar. This is double-bubble, and should ensure that if they do bolt and slip out of one, you will be able to hold them with the other. We (obviously) use the Mekuti Balance Harness as it’s been tested on those notorious escapologists – sighthounds – and, when it’s adjusted correctly, is very difficult to reverse out of.
  • Garden – check your fence/perimeter for any holes (either in it or underneath), or places where your dog can climb onto something like a table, bench, or stump, to give them a boost over the top. Move what you can away from the edges (stumps are tricky); dogs can be pretty inventive when they have to be (trying to get the image of a pole-vaulting dog out of my head). My advice is only allow your dog to be loose in the garden in the daytime, and away from dusk. The rest of the time have them on lead, or on a long line if they need space. Whilst checking the garden, look at the latches on your gates to ensure it cannot accidentally be left open. Always latch it behind you and check it’s closed.


The above may seem like minor things to be doing, but they are aimed at reducing the likelihood of your dog escaping from you, but, if they do, increase the likelihood that they will be returned home. There are too many dogs in rescue who are microchipped but their details are out of date so their distraught owners cannot be traced. Don’t be one of them. A small investment of time can make all the difference. A terrified dog can run a very long way and take themselves out of their usual territory making it hard to find their way back – they cannot think in this state as everything is reaction / adrenalin and the brain is unable to take in the details of where they have travelled.


This weekend, sort out ID, microchip details, collars, leads and harnesses, then into your garden for a quick check.


My next post will cover what you can do to help your dog to feel more relaxed when the fireworks are actually going off.



ME is no longer with us :-(

ME is no longer with us :-(


Despite a time of profound love and togetherness with my family of people and animals, this has been a very uncomfortable and ‘challenging’ day.

Reviewing the pictures of our Meggie has reminded me of how multi-faceted she was. She took time to play, socialise and contemplate and she had a wonderfully uncomfortable ‘human’ look in her eyes every so often that just made you wonder for a moment … and then she’d present herself for a tickle on the tum and normal service was resumed!

As referred in a previous post just over a year ago about ‘The Question’, she got her wish, she wasn’t alone, but the pain … oh the pain of being there and having to make these decisions.

The tears, the wishes for everlasting recovery and health only to be faced with the reality that this was actually how she wanted it to be. For us to be together, for us not to have suffered enduring pain or discomfort or indignity. Just together, in love, supporting each other and … … it’s hard not to just go on. There were so many tears in ours but not in her eyes, I think she was grateful for how it was, being there with her favourite vet, Brendon @ Towerwood in Leeds. He was definitely on her side, helping us come to our inevitable conclusion. She was ready and ever patient with us to become ready ourselves.


Meg was a tough nut, we both and some others have the scars to prove it, but five years ago, we had an ‘encounter’ and I made a promise never to give up on her, none of it was anger it was always in love and it seemed she made the same commitment to me. We reminded ourselves of this lying cuddled up on the floor of the vets earlier today and she reminded me to stay strong and make good my commitment and make the tough decisions we had to make.

Her reputation had gone before her and when Rachael prepared me for our first meeting, I was firmly instructed to sit down, not make eye contact and wait for her to come to me … and, boy, did she come to me! A fine example of unconditional love I have never before experienced, my heart is forever richer. I got her, and she got me.

Oh, Meg, I miss your cheeky face making sure I’d seen your mischievousness and I only hope I can quickly turn the ‘missings’ into ‘rememberings.

On Facebook, Rachael says:

“The words I’ve dreaded writing for many years.

My Meg has gone. The hell raiser puppy grew to be a month short of 14 and lived her life to the full.

She trained me to feed her treats, and I trained her to steal from bins, to run off with the prize, to bark at people until they sat down.

I said “in” and she would just stare at me until I said “out”.

Shopping bags contained monsters and everyone had to be protected from them.
When it was time to leave, she would want to stay. If it was time to stay, she would want to leave.

She brought Tellington TTouch into my life, with Turid Rugaas, raw feeding and Zoopharmacognosy. She put the “Me” into Mekuti and gave me a contented living. But most of all, most of all she put my heart back together.

We are finding the house oh so quiet without her, but do you know what? She’s still here. Close by. Twinkling. Waving her tail like she used to.

Thank you for sharing yourself so generously with us my darling Meggie. I’ll miss stroking that silky head and oh so soft ears if yours and our “interesting” walks is water.

I love you sweetheart.”

Demetri says:

“Sadly, we had to say our final goodbye to our Meg earlier today.

She had got seriously worse over the past few days and hadn’t been putting any weight on for quite a while. Finally, she couldn’t raise herself to walk and the look in her eye to us this morning was telling us she was ready and it was time for us to make our hardest decision.

I wasn’t ready and Rachael probably less so but there was a rapidly growing tumour inside her which gave even us no option even with all the love, pills and potions to hand.

We understood her pain and she in turn understood our pain and she made her passing as kind and loving as anything I’ve ever seen.
She was cheeky and mischievous to the end and was never ‘only a dog’ to anyone that she encountered.

Needless to say we have the smoked salmon, cheese and cava out this evening to remind us to live long to remember her.

D & R x x”


At the UKRCB Symposium

At the UKRCB Symposium

The Mekuti Stand at this year’s event is focussing on the Balance Harness with Extra Neck Clip for dog who are sensitive around the head.


We are also featuring our new Affiliate Scheme which helps people who are not in a position to stock Mekuti products but would like to join the many trainers and dog clubs who recommend particularly the harness to stop dogs from pulling and our other products which help to reduce anxiety.

This is particularly important at this time of year with fireworks and all the other exciting bits that happen around Christmas.

see how well behaved our ‘dog’ Fido is in front of the table?


Things to help with firework fright

New Year fireworks can be a stressful time for dogs

It isn’t just the sudden noises late at night that cause anxiety, it is also the change in routine and the excitement of the household as New Year approaches.

The Season as a whole takes it’s toll on many things within a household, with irregular people popping in and out and other family members taking extended time off work along with excited children off school throwing boxes and wrapping paper around the place.

Utter chaos!

Well, that’s what it’s like here, I’m sure all readers of this article have perfectly peaceful and meditative home lives where all the people have a wrinkle free, soft outer glow about them just like the Bisto gravy adverts … yeah right, no wonder our companion animals are stressed out!

Anyway, help is possibly at hand with a few of the Mekuti products and techniques that we use with our own animals.


Build a Den

Den for a dog to feel safe

Meg in one of her dens!

Perhaps the most useful thing in a room when there are fireworks or thunder happening is a safe sanctuary. A place where the dog can go and just be with itself, feel safe and comfy. If one isn’t provided, they will probably find one of their own.

Our Meg likes to go under desks, the printer table, tucked away in a corner squashed against a chair and impossible to get to. Often stuck at an odd angle she cannot be reached and any attempt to do so will be me met with snarling or worse. Not pleasant.

So, we have built her a den by using a regular dog crate, made comfy inside with a blanket or two and surrounded on the outside with a duvet and another couple of blankets. The door is left open but the entrance is covered so she can disappear inside to be in the dark whenever she wants to.

OK, she sometimes still whimpers a bit in there but she is at least comfy and has a few personal items of treasure in there secreted away when we haven’t been looking! We don’t go in there only to tidy up occasionally or rescue essential or dangerous items as it is solely her own space.


Mekuti Body Wrap

The Body Wrap

Mutley lying down curled up with his Body Wrap

The Body Wrap brings the dog’s awareness to itself. It is easy to put on and helps to reduce anxiety and bring about a calming effect almost immediately.

Don’t expect your dog to be too active with a Body Wrap on as they are likely to be very chilled out.

Available in three sizes, the Medium size (3″) costs £8.75 and can be purchased on the Mekuti website Body Wrap page.

It is important to remember however, that your dog should not be left unattended with the Body Wrap on as it can get caught or snagged on something which would be far from ideal so an ideal alternative for extended use is …


A Dog T-Shirt

Dog T-Shirt

Grieving Meg feeling happier and calmer in her T-Shirt

A Dog T-Shirt is really such an invaluable piece of equipment for an unhappy dog. It always pains me to see this picture as she was grieving for her recently lost friend and companion Heidi and really wasn’t into doing very much. On this occasion her T-Shirt helped her to get out and do a bit of roaming around engaging with the outside world again, building up her confidence once more.

T-Shirts work by giving the dog a sort or ‘portable hug’ and help them feel secure. They are perfect for when there are fireworks and thunder around and can help to stop whining, excessive barking, shaking and many other anxiety/stress related symptoms.

At New Year and Bonfire Night we have over the years found the T-Shirt to be part of our essential kit and can be used for extensive periods in the house, on walks and when travelling. We always have a spare T-Shirt and Body Wrap in the car.

Made by Equafleece from 95% Cotton and 5% Spandex, they are stretchy, comfortable and washable. Available in various sizes, the Medium costs £16 and is available to buy on the Mekuti website T-Shirt page.

An alternative to the T-Shirt is …


A HotterDog Jumper

HotterDog Jumpers

Two staffys sporting their new jumpers.

When it comes to calming and reducing anxiety because of things like fireworks and thunder, these HotterDog Jumpers work in the same way that the T-Shirts do.

Obviously, they are a bit better at helping to keep the dog warm and dry on cold, damp days and snow just brushes off.

Again, we find these really useful especially around Christmas and New Year. They can be worn for extended periods of time both inside and outside. Though they stop our dogs from getting too cold by protecting their core body temperature they don’t get overheated. You might be able to spot that in the top picture of Meg in her den that she is wearing a jumper too.

Also made by Equafleece from a hard wearing man made fleece material, they are easily washed, keep their shape and colour well. Available in four different colours, the Medium costs just £19.75 and can be bought on the Mekuti website dog jumper page.


… and finally

When it’s all going off outside and our dog are being wary they are always looking to us for cues on how to behave. They are very tuned in to our own feelings and anxieties and possibly the most important thing to remember is to avoid eye contact if at all possible. Stay relaxed and as calm as possible whilst enjoying all the things that the Season brings us.

Happy New Year!


Microchips and Muzzles – Scotland to decide

The Scottish Government is having a Consultation to decide what sort of action could be considered around the issue of public safety and dogs.

Some of the proposals include compulsory microchipping and compulsory muzzling in public places, and so on.

There is a link through the BBC website to a more in depth story and discussion, which as usual turns into a bit of a slagging match, but there are also links there to the Consultation Document and a Survey where you can actually take part in the consultation itself.

We have lots of customers in Scotland who like us agree with force-free training methods and it is an opportunity to let your feelings and opinions known to the ‘authorities’.

I suppose the other question is, should we also have a similar consultation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Why just is Scotland?

BBC website story:
Consultation Letter:
The actual Survey:

Still sending stuff out for Christmas


Things are still going out before Christmas!

Latest order to be despatched for delivery tomorrow came in at 5:45 this evening on Friday, and with the help of the wonderful Royal Mail 1st Class delivery service will arrive on Saturday. So, happy faces and happy dogs all round!

Online orders from the weekend and on Monday will still be sent out as normal and you never know, they still might arrive in time for Chrimbo.