Firecrackers, rockets, sparklers – for many people, they’re all part of the New Year’s Eve fun. For animals, though, loud noises and flashes of light cause considerable stress. They often react with panic, sometimes showing physical symptoms such as diarrhea. However, there are many simple measures we can take to calm our pets’ nerves on New Year’s Eve.
Here are our top tips for managing your dog:
- Early habituation. If you have a puppy or young dog it is important to gradually socialize them with different stimuli and situations including loud noises. This makes it easier for them as an adult dog to deal with loud noises and unusual situations, e.g. Fireworks night, New Year’s Eve.
- Going for walks. If you need to take your dog out during fireworks then it is recommended to go for walks at times when it is still relatively quiet. Practical steps should also be taken to ensure that your dog does not run away if fireworks go off during your walk. For example, it is important to ensure that your dog is microchipped (and the microchip details are up to date) so that they can be returned to you if lost. It is also important that your dog wears a collar and tag with your contact details.
- In the house. During fireworks, your dog should stay in the house. To calm your dog it is recommended to close the curtains and put on calming music at a suitable volume to minimise the noise of the fireworks and help reduce your dog’s anxiety.
- Anti-stress jackets. So-called “calming shirts” are proven to have a calming effect on animals. Their design exerts a continual and gentle pressure on the ribcage of the dog and contributes to reducing their anxiety.
- White noise machine: These sound devices provide calming noise. Depending on the device, you can choose between rain, waterfall and wind noises to help minimize the noise of the fireworks.
- In the case of stress: If your dog becomes stressed despite all precautionary measures, it is important that they can find a safe place to retreat to, such as under the bed, behind the sofa or wherever they feel most safe. If your dog is anxious it is important that they are not left on their own and that you are there to comfort them if needed.
- Professional support: Animals that have a deep fear of fireworks and loud noises can be treated for their fears with professional help either by a vet or qualified behaviorist. A carefully developed desensitization and counterconditioning programme, which is specifically tailored to address their fear, may help your dog overcome their anxiety.