How to Keep Your Dog Safe during New Year’s

Jan 01, 2019     |      Sophie's Circle

New Years DogEvery year has two days that can be particularly scary to your canine friend, the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve. Fireworks with explosive sounds and sights cause many pets to run away in fright. This article offers some practical tips to keep your dog safe – whether you’re home during New Year’s Eve or not.

Working Pet Routines Around The Firework Display Timeframe
Like humans, pets typically thrive when there is a set feeding, walking, play and sleep time each day. However, humans understand there are times when those routines need to be interrupted. If your dog becomes anxious around loud noise, then New Year’s Eve might be one of those days when the rules need to be bent a little.

Most fireworks do not begin until around dusk. It is a good idea to know when that time will be for your location to plan your evening walk. For example, if you always take your dog for a walk around 6:00 pm and the sun will already be getting low in the sky by then, you may want to take your walk at 5:00 pm that evening or hire a dog-walker from a service like Wag or, if you are not able to be home in time. Likewise, if your dog typically eats dinner around the time when you think people will start the celebrations, try to feed him or her an hour earlier. This will help your dog eat a full meal without distractions.

However, some dogs do not seem as nervous around usually loud sounds. They seem to eat, drink and walk with around loud sights and sounds without any signs of fear at all. For new pet parents, how do you know if your dog will be comfortable around the fireworks?

Try Smaller Popping Sounds In Advance
One way to find out if your dog is nervous around loud sounds is to make some loud sounds of your own. Start small with a few popping sounds. If your dog is not shying away from the sound or seems to be getting used to it, add a louder sound or sparkler and observe your dog’s reaction.

Loud squeaky toys and bells can work with this desensitizing trick as well. Let your dog make some of the loud sounds with pet toys under your supervision. Sometimes, all your pet needs is an introduction to odd sights and sounds to become more comfortable with loud noises. This is especially true for homes without babies or young children where the typical day’s noise level is fairly low, unless you count the time when you watched your alma mater nearly lose in football!

Keeping Your Pet A Safe Distance From The Fireworks Display
Children and pets share some similarities. They both need love, they both need boundaries or rules, and they both share a strong curiosity about the world around them. Exploring is natural and should be encouraged to an extent. However, pets should stay on leash for owners who decide to take them to the fireworks display. Not only can your dog follow his or her nose into someone’s picnic basket, he or she can also follow the gunpowder smell and loud explosions coming from the fireworks display. Dogs can try to eat the fireworks or they can get too close when it is launched. To avoid hearing damage, burns or internal injuries from ingestion, please remember to keep even well-trained dogs close and on lead while outside the home.

Speak To Your Veterinarian
Should you feel your dog is overly nervous about loud sounds and unusual sights, your veterinarian is a great resource for more tips on what you should do to keep your pet comfortable. For some dogs, a Thundershirt may be useful. Others may require a sedative as a last measure to reduce anxiety. If you think your dog falls into this level of stress during New Year’s Eve, speak with your vet about what he or she recommends for your pet.

Reassurance Is Key
Above all else, reassurance is the number one way to comfort your pet. An owner’s love and attention helps with anxiety of all types of fearful reactions - dogs who shake and tremble, dogs who run and hide, or dogs who stand and bark. If you cannot stay with your dog during the fireworks times and you believe your dog may need some calming human reassurance, try to arrange a family member, friend, or pet sitter to stay with your dog because we could all use a little hug from time-to-time.