A DOG expert is urging owners to be aware of their pets as bonfire night is set to kick off with a bang this week.

Abby Wright, owner of Ty Ci Dog House doggy day care centre in Bagillt, teamed up with Laura Williams, dog trainer at the Good Companion Dog Training Club based in Prestatyn, to offer advice to dog owners as fireworks night approaches.

"It's common knowledge dogs and most animals are scared of loud noises, and people need to be considerate that there are some creatures that don't enjoy fireworks like we do. We obviously want people to have fun and enjoy the night, but we also wanted owners to be aware and have the knowledge of what's best to do if their dogs, and other pets, get frightened.

"Laura held a sound-sensitivity workshop at Ty Ci warehouse and went really well. It was great for local owners to get some tips as Flintshire is an area where a lot of fireworks go off - especially around the Flint and Bagillt foreshore where they have arranged fireworks."

Laura said the session was about giving owners the tools to desensitize dogs to fireworks and other loud noises. She said: "You aren't able to do it in one session, so we put on a CD and put the volume to 1 per cent then if the dogs were happy we gradually increased the volume. The owner would then go home and give the dog a sound and see how they are reacting.

"We gave tips and pointers for when dogs are anxious, like the dogs have a bit of whites in their eyes, prick their ears or cower away, have their hackles up, or have quite heavy panting. Licking is quite common so owners need to know if their dogs are licking crumbs of their lips or if they're anxious. It depends on the dog and each owner knows their dog."

Laura said that there are rumours owners shouldn't comfort their pets when they're anxious because "that's what they're looking for," but the dog trainer recommends acting normally to the dog and comforting them with words and strokes. She also added that if the dog does want to run around, then ensure the area is enclosed so there is no opportunity to escape into further danger.

She said: "Some dogs like a little den as it muffles the sound. Put some blankets and cushions in the middle of the floor or house, not near the doors - but build this up a couple of days before just so they know."

Laura's advice for other comforters on bonfire night, such as anxiety-calming tablets or scent release devices, is to contact the local vet. She also recommended the 'Sounds Scary' CD which is available on the Dog's Trust website. This CD is a programme developed by two veterinary surgeons which is aimed at helping dogs adapt to loud noises.