The turn of the year is a time of crisis for many dogs. The deafening noise of the New Year’s Eve firecrackers and the unfamiliar lights in the night sky scare many pets every year. We have put together some tips on how the dog and owner can survive New Year’s Eve with little or no stress.
A dog’s sense of hearing is far superior to that of humans. It is therefore not surprising that dogs react to the cracking of a New Year’s Eve firecracker or the hissing of a rocket with fear and sometimes with panic. Flashes of light and the smell of burning fuel the fear further. Typical signs of a so-called New Year’s Eve phobia in dogs are restless panting, trembling, drooling, running around with their tails in, and the urge to crawl somewhere.
The severity of the fear of noise and gunshot noises can already be influenced by the dog owner when they are puppies. If the puppy gets extreme attention with every fear reaction, is stroked, caressed or even comforted with “treats”, it feels encouraged in its behavior. In this way, the fear behavior is instilled in the dog to a certain extent. It is better to react as calmly as possible to a frightening behavior when there is a loud bang or gunshot or to ignore it.
Important tips for New Year’s Eve
- Don’t leave your dog alone that night!
- When you see the first signs of anxiety, don’t overreact. Instead, try to distract your dog with fetch games or other tasks. If he won’t be encouraged to play, it’s best to ignore his frightened behavior as much as possible.
- Allow your dog to crawl into a dark corner and withdraw, under the sofa, under a table over which you hang a blanket. Some dogs also like to withdraw into a very small room (e.g. bathroom).
- Shield your dog from noise and flashes of light as much as possible: close the windows, shutters, and curtains, and turn on the television or radio to muffle the noise of the New Year’s rockets.
- If possible, go for a walk on New Year’s Eve at a time when there are no fireworks and only to relieve yourself. Never let your dog off the leash when you go for a walk! A sudden crack can startle him so much that he panics and runs away. Even a few days before and after New Year’s Eve, you should leave your dog on a leash when you go for a walk.
- Never use earplugs! There is an acute risk of injury here and the plugs can often only be removed surgically.
- Remain calm and composed.
Here’s how to calm your dog down:
Acupressure after TTouch
For some dogs, the so-called Tellington ear touch can have a calming and relaxing effect. This method – named after Linda Tellington-Jones – is based on the principle of acupressure. You stroke the dog in regular strokes with your hand from the base of the ear to the tip of the ear. Another option is to massage the base of the ear with your fingertips in a circular motion.
Another long-term method of getting an adult dog or puppy used to loud bangs and bangs is sound therapy. With a noise CD, various noises can be associated with positive events (playing, stroking, eating, treats). The volume of the noises may only be increased slowly and carefully. However, this method is somewhat tedious and must be applied consistently over several weeks or months.
Bach flowers for fear reactions
Dogs’ fears can also be alleviated with homeopathic remedies. In addition to various Bach flower extracts, which only develop their effect after long-term use, there are so-called emergency drops that also help if they are administered immediately in a stressful situation. You can ask your veterinarian for more detailed information about Bach flowers and how they work in dogs.
Calming down with pheromones
Another relatively new approach in behavioral medicine is the use of special fragrances – so-called pheromones. During the suckling period, the bitch produces special scents that have a relaxing and calming effect on the puppy. Studies have shown that these pheromones also have an anxiolytic effect in adult dogs. The special fragrance is available as a spray – which is applied directly to the sleeping area – or as an atomizer, in which the pheromone-containing liquid is evenly vaporized into the air in the home.