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Humans love fireworks, it is often beautiful, dramatic, loud, smells of powder and affects all our senses. However our dogs may view it differently. The first “wheeee” from a rocket that shoots to the skies sends most dogs on the run across the room to hide under the kitchen table. What can you do to help your dog cope better with New Year’s Eve?

Protect your dog’s hearing
It is important to remember that your dog’s hearing is much better and more sensitive than ours. Take for example a Border Collie. This breed was bred to herd sheep. A Border Collie can almost hear a sheep sneeze halfway up a mountain and then hear its owner’s whistle and commands from there when it arrived to find the sheep.

Loud noises may cause physical pain in a dogs’ ears. Therefore dogs can have extremely traumatic experiences during New Year’s Eve. A bad experience can keep your dog psychologically scarred for life. If your dog becomes afraid of fireworks, it may become afraid of everything that the dog associates with fireworks that could be thunder, a car starting, lightning, something dropped etc.

Avoid unwanted behaviour due to stress
New Year’s Eve can also impact your house and furniture in a destructive way especially if your dog is home alone. When a dog is afraid of fireworks the dog will not think in a rational way anymore. The dog may try to chew or scratch its way through a door to escape, or nearly go into shock hiding somewhere.

In order to minimize stress on your dog and bring it through New Year’s Eve, there are some simple tips you can follow:

  • Always keep your dog indoors when fireworks are going off outside. Walk your dog in good time earlier in the day before the fireworks start.
  • Close all windows and doors so the sound is reduced. Close the curtains. If your dog is accustomed to the noise from the TV and radio you can turn them on at low volume to block some of the sounds of fireworks.
  • Be sure your dog has its dog collar or other identification on him also inside the house.
  • Have a safe “cave” ready for your dog, where it likes to hide. Eg. with some old clothes. Let your dog hide if it wants to don’t try to get it to come out again.
  • Do not cuddle or comfort a scared dog as it will believe that you are afraid too. This may make the problem worse. Be calm, balanced, behave normally and praise calm behavior.
  • Try to be at home as much as possible with your dog on New Year’s Eve. If you can’t do it don’t be mad if your dog has been destructive in the course of his anxiety when you come home.
  • Never take your dog to a fireworks show. Although the dog may not complain or seem affected that doesn’t mean that the dog is happy or unaffected by the loud noises and flashes.
  • If you have a dog that you know will be scared or stressed out New Year’s Eve you can consult your veterinarian and possibly get a tranquilizing pill to give to the dog on the day.
  • You can prevent your dog’s anxiety by introducing unexpected sounds in dog training before New Year’s Eve. The sounds could be rattling pots, a loose key chain or anything else that can make a sound when the dog performs other tricks or take a walk etc. The intention is to gradually introduce the sounds – first from afar and then closer – until the dog does not become distracted / afraid of them.

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