Use Alexa’s new music to calm cats on fireworks night (plus these expert tips)on November 3, 2022 at 10:35 Tech Advisor

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Around this time of year, your neighbours will no doubt be setting off plenty fireworks. Maybe you are, too. But while they’re exciting for humans, it can be a distressing time for pets, particularly cats and dogs.

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.

And this year, Amazon has had special music composed which you can ask Alexa to play – or dogs can trigger automatically just by barking.

Not all pets are bothered by the noise, but if yours is, here are five things you can try to soothe them and reduce stress, along with some top tips from animal welfare charity Battersea and Anita Kelsey, feline behaviourist & author of ‘Let’s Talk About Cats’.

Of course you can use these tips any time, not only around fireworks night.

1. Ask Alexa to play music

Music can reduce the sudden impact of firework sounds. If you have an Amazon Echo or another device with Alexa, you can say “Alexa, help my cat relax”.

Amazon says that scientific research shows that cats prefer species-appropriate music, which is why the track has certain tones and frequencies, and sounds like cats purring.

If you instead say “Alexa, help my dog relax”, classical music will play from your linked music subscription, if you have one.

2. Use Alexa skills

Similar to playing music, there are skills available 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.

How to enable Alexa skills

3. Put on their favourite TV show

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. Use an Alexa routine

If you have dogs, Amazon has created a routine called Press Paws. Once enabled in the Alexa app, the routine – which will start when your dog barks – will play a playlist called Classical for Dogs.

To enable it:

Open this QR code on a laptop, or a second phone.Open the camera app on your phone and scan the QR code with the camera.Tap on the alert to open the routine in the Alexa app.Look for options in yellow text, which show that you need to make a selection to complete setup. Select your device or follow the prompts as needed.Select Enable or Save to save and enable the routine.

Having a routine like this is potentially more suitable when you’re not expecting fireworks or other loud noises to disturb your dog while you’re out.

However, this will work only if you are an Amazon Prime member or subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited. If you’re not a subscriber, you could create your own routine and get Alexa to play a classical radio station (or other calming music) and turn on smart lights.

5. Use Alexa to talk to your pet

The sound of your voice can also have a calming effect. Again, if you have an Echo, you can use the drop-in function (or an announcement) so pets 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 can 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”.

Anita Kelsey offers a couple of additional tips. One is to keep your energy calm. Pets look to us for reassurance and so our voices and facial expressions should remain calm as we sit quietly with them telling them there is nothing to worry about, giving them a stroke to also reassure.

The second may sound obvious, but closing the curtains will shut out any sudden flashes, especially if your neighbours are setting off fireworks in their garden. It isn’t just the noise of fireworks that is frightening, but the flashes of light that infiltrate the home.

Related articles for further reading

How to control smart lights with Alexa
Best pet tech
Funny things to ask Alexa

Smart Home

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