New Year's Eve is an exciting time of the year for many; music, lights, food, and spending time with family and friends, but it can also be a stressful time for the four-legged members of our families.
While we love watching the spectacular fireworks displays at this time of year, they can cause distress to our dogs. They can easily frighten your pet who will do all they can to remove themselves from the situation.
Not all dogs will be impacted, but a little preparation beforehand for those that might find it uncomfortable can make a huge difference.
Dogs frightened by fireworks will try to escape the situation and therefore may try to run away. This can cause serious injury to them, or your pet could even end up far from home.
Below are our tips to make the evening enjoyable and safe for your dog.
Take your dog out for some exercise before the fireworks begin. A nice long walk in the morning and then if time allows, perhaps a shorter one in the afternoon can make a big difference.
Ensure your dog has had a good meal (their usual dinner will suffice). A tired and well-fed dog can help them be less anxious during the evening. You can also reward your dog during the day for calm and quiet behaviour with their favourite treat or toy.
Keep your dog indoors and close all blinds and curtains of the room/s your dog will have access to; this will help to reduce visual stimulation.
Dogs should never be left outside. Not only can this increase their physical risk, but it can also add to their fear and distress. Some dogs who panic may choke themselves on their collar or leash as they try to escape so never tether your dog during this time.
You can create a safe place in the room for your dog. Put their bed in a corner of the room with their favourite blanket and toy. Some dogs like hiding in cardboard boxes with blankets inside (place a light blanket on top - leave one end open). If you don't have a cardboard box you could use a table instead. Put some soft music or the television on which can help mask the sounds from outside.
If you can, stay with your dog during the fireworks. Avoid fussing over them as this can encourage anxious behaviour. Just try to engage them in normal activities and games they usually enjoy.
It is important to keep their normal routine so just carry on business as usual.
It is important to keep calm during the fireworks and not punish your dog if they show signs of distress - remember they are most likely acting out from fear. Our pets feed off our moods so if you can keep calm then this will help your pet.