Today’s guest writer is Robbi Hess, Story Editor at Positively Woof. Robbi is sharing tips for a stress-free New Year’s Eve with your dog, especially if there are fireworks where you live. 

Fireworks, once relegated to the Fourth of July (and the occasional spate of them from your neighbors) have become a way for many municipalities to celebrate the New Year. So many dogs are terrified of fireworks and because of that we have some ways in which pet parents can enrich their dog’s environment and make welcoming in the new year an enjoyable activity for everyone.

Enjoy A Stress-Free New Year’s With Your Dog

Exposure To Sounds

If you expose your dog to sounds that may frighten him – fireworks, the vacuum cleaner, etc. – you can desensitize him to those sounds in a controlled environment. DOGTV has some programming specifically developed to expose your dog to sounds that may frighten him or lead to uncontrollable barking – the sounds of vehicles, vacuum cleaners and dogs barking.  You can sign up for a FREE 14-day trial of DOGTV and try it out this New Year’s Eve.

When you’re exposing your dog to these frightening sounds, play with him, distract him, offer him a treat. Doing this will help him associate the sounds of fireworks or other loud noises with enjoyable activities and time spent with you.

Safe Space

If your dog doesn’t already have one, find her a safe space; a space she can call her own when she is scared or when fireworks are going off. Many dogs find comfort in their crate. If your dog doesn’t have a crate, provide her with some cozy blankets on her own bed and a few of her favorite toys. Get her accustomed to her bed as a safe space well before the fireworks begin. Her bed should be the place she goes to sleep when you’re away, when there are too many people in the house or when she is afraid.

Provide Distractions

Canine enrichment oftentimes means distracting your dog from what scares her and offering her something better to do than fret! Give her a new toy to play with, a new chew toy, fill her Kong with a special treat, or play a game with her.

If your dog simply doesn’t want to be distracted, turn on some DOGTV, grab a good book and snuggle with her on the couch or the bedroom with the blinds closed. Sounds from within your home can distract her from the loud booming sounds from outside.

Tire Him Out

A tired dog is a happy dog, or so the saying goes. If you know there will be fireworks that will frighten your dog, make certain he has gotten a lot of exercise that day. If he is tired, he may pay less attention to the loud booms.

If your dog has been tired out, he may be relaxed and the sounds of the fireworks may cause him less anxiety.

Talk With Your Vet

If you have tried everything, other than medications, and your dog is still highly stressed and anxious because of loud noises, it may be time to consult with your favorite veterinarian.

Your vet may prescribe medications to help calm your dog during fireworks. A  Thundershirt-type garment may help; this is a wrap-around vest that some pet parents swear calms their dog as soon as they put it on him.

Block The Outside Noises

Close the curtains. Go into a room that is as far away from the fireworks sounds as possible.

Turn on DOGTV or other programming or music that will help block out the noises from the out-of-doors.

Run the dishwasher or the washing machine as background “white noise” to block the outside noises and provide a distracting sound for your dog.

Don’t Leave Her Home Alone

You know your dog best. If you can leave her home alone in her crate or safe space, with the curtains closed and DOGTV or white noise playing to distract her from the fireworks, that’s great! If, however, you know that your dog will be frantic and pacing and anxiety-ridden during the fireworks, you may opt to stay home with her to comfort her and alleviate her stress.

If you can’t stay home, invest in technology that allows you to view your dog when you’re away. There are devices that let you see your dog and even to talk with her and give her a treat from the device; this may be a happy compromise for the pet parent who can’t stay home.

Remember, just as Fourth of July fireworks cause many dogs to run away from home and get lost, the same can happen on New Year’s Eve with its fireworks. To protect your dog and assure he will make it home if he escapes, make certain his collar is on and his tags are current. If your dog is microchipped, go online and make sure your contact information is up to date. Take photos of your dog and of you with your dog to help assure you are reunited if he escapes (this is good advice any time of the year, not just when there are fireworks!)

All of us at DOGTV wish you and your dogs a happy, prosperous, and joyful New Year!