New Year’s Eve: A Dog’s Experience
I’m writing this on December 29th, 2016. We’re right bang in the middle between Christmas and New Years.
This means the shops are crowded, what feels like a hundred people are visiting my house, food and alcohol abounds, and frankly, I’m feeling fat. Ok, and maybe looking fat too.
But this is not why this is maybe not the most wonderful time of the year. What I mean by that is that it may not be so wonderful for our pets, especially when the world ends on New Years Eve.
Sorry, I mean when the fireworks go off – but how do we explain that to our dogs?
Imagine not knowing what fireworks were and suddenly hearing enormously loud bangs, like shots fired right next to you. You may see lights flashing and smell smoke in the air. I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought the sky was falling down on you!
You’d want to high tail it outta there faster than I move when my mother in law asks me when we’re going to have kids. And that’s fast.
With that in mind, this post is all about things we can try to make sure our pets are safe, and that they feel safe too.
Don’t Leave Your Dog (or any pet) Outside Unattended
When you know there’ll be fireworks or storms, don’t leave your dog outside in the yard, no matter how secure you think it is. Dogs will go to great lengths and can achieve surprising break outs to get away from danger. The fireworks don’t need to be close either – remember dogs have sensitive hearing and what is a few miles away will feel like it’s on your doorstep. They can smell it from a great distance away too.
Create A Safe Space Inside
Preferably someone will be home to be with your dog. If not, create a cosy and secure area indoors that you’re dog is comfortable in and can’t escape from.
Close the curtains and put on some relaxing music, loud enough to drown out the sound of the fireworks.
Do Pleasant Things
If you’re dog will engage in fun play or training, do that. But if they aren’t up to it, don’t force them. Just keep them secure and make them feel as safe as you can.
You can pat your dog if they’re calm but if they’re freaking out, they may feel better if you are acting confident and showing them that there is nothing to be afraid of. So don’t try to frantically calm them down. Be kind but firm and settle them into a cosy area. This is where a crate can be really handy if your dog is already crate trained. If they aren’t, just create a small area like a den and encourage them, don’t force them, into it.
Your dog likely already has a space in your house that they are familiar with and feel safe in so let them use that as well.
You can try giving your dog Bach flower remedies to help calm them down. These are available at the chemist. If you have a holistic vet, they may recommend their own remedies to you.
You can use a Thundershirt as a wrap. Thundershirt claims that their product works for around 80% of dogs to help them be calm in stressful situations, include storms and fireworks. Definitely worth a try! It works by wrapping the Thundershirt firmly around your dog and securing it. It applies constant gentle pressure which has a calming effect.
Train For Next Time
Don’t wait until fireworks are on to work on the issue. You can practice desensitising your dog to loud noises using sound recordings such as those available in the fantastic app, Sound Proof Puppy Training
While playing the recordings, start on a low volume and do something with your dog that they love like playing with a toy or feeding treats or their meal. Gradually increase the volume as your dog is successful and comfortable with each step. You’ll need to play the sounds through speakers so that you can eventually get it nice and loud.