New Year’s Eve with dog – tips for the fear of noises

For many dog owner, after the Christmas feast the trambling begins. Some dogs are afraid of New Year’s Eve. Or to be more precise they are afraid of the sounds and lights of firework. This fear can develop in your dog as they get older. Here we have tips and tricks to help you safely throught into the new year with your furry friend.

New Year’s Eve is here – our tips

After the contemplative Christmas season with candles, incense burners and fairy lights, a not so contemplative, nor especially quiet, time is approaching: New Year’s Eve! The days around the turn of the year are certainly, for many dogs, among the most exhausting and unneeded of the whole year.

Of course, every dog reacts differently to the New Year’s Eve noise from fireworks. Not every four-legged friend is a scared bundle when the bangs and flashes start. However, even for these dogs, a few precautions can help you prevent getting an anxious dog in the future.

Young dog with top hat with Happy new year
For many dogs, the end of the year isn’t half as fun as it is for us humans!

Act as normal as possible

First of all, the most important thing is to act as normal as possible. You are a role model for your dog, so to speak. He is strongly oriented towards you. That means if you stay calm, it will transfer to your animal family member to some degree.

Keep your daily routine, just like any other day. This may be a bit more difficult on New Year’s Eve, as many people are preparing for a celebration. But with a little sensitivity, it possible. Because if you are calm, then your four-legged friend also knows not to be afraid.

Music – a home remedy for noise anxiety

To help, play music at home. The suppresses the noise from outside at least a little bit and calms not only you, but also your dog. You can also condition this music in your dog in advance with relaxation. You simply play a certain piece of music, as quiet and long as possible, over and over again when your dog is asleep. With time, your furry friend will then associate the music with relaxation.

Our tip from the editorial office: there are ten-hour videos with dog relaxation music on YouTube. Using these, editorial dog Inge sleeps like a baby.

Two dogs lying on a sofa, in the foreground a gray dog on its back. Caption reads: Deeply relaxed thanks to conditioned relaxation with a YouTube video: Editorial dog Inge.
Deeply relaxed thanks to conditioned relaxation with a YouTube video: Editorial dog Inge.

Another tip from dog trainer Ulrike Seumel: If your dog reacts in a relaxed manner to loud films – such as action or science fiction films – you can also run such a film on New Year’s Eve. Because the loud sounds of such films ideally distract from the fireworks that explode outside.

Avoid walking after dark

The only thing you should avoid at all costs is walking your dog after dark. Even if that is your normal routine.

There are very simple reasons why you shouldn’t leave the house with your dog on New Year’s Eve:

  • The New Year’s Eve noise really gets going at nightfall, and cross-firing fireworks increase the risk of injury.
  • You can’t see as well in the dark what your dog might be doing or eating. Fireworks, or more precisely their sulfur-containing ingredients are toxic! And what you and your dog don’t need on New Year’s Eve is an emergency visit to the vet.
  • Another reason: the flashing of fireworks is also more visible in the dark and can be frightening.

Likewise, on these days, you should only walk your dog on familiar routes that he knows and is comfortable with. You should also avoid long rounds and rather go for short walks, and keep your dog busy at home – for example with search games.

A young woman jumps over a log in the snow with her dog on a leash
Around the turn of the year, a dog absolutely belongs on a leash for carefree walking!

Be sure to leash your dog

Of course, you also have to walk your four-legged friend on New Year’s Eve and the days around the New Year. However, you should definitely have him leashed not only on New Year’s Eve, but also a few days before and after!

Why?

Well, the banging usually starts a few days before and continues beyond the turn of the year. And it can be even more frightening when only isolated fireworks go off than when it’s constantly loud and restless. You certainly don’t want your four-legged friend to run off in fright, nor do you want him to get hurt by carelessly thrown fireworks or their toxic residues.

Create retreats

Creating retreats starts with little things like closing windows and doors. If you have some, also lower the shutters and draw the curtains in front of windows and doors. Some dogs like it when you build them a den. Some like to do this as close to you as possible, while others prefer to retreat to the basement. You know your four-legged friend best and know what he needs! Give it to him.

It goes without saying, don’t leave a frightened animal alone, especially on New Year’s Eve. Because a dog draws a lot of security from his master or mistress. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to give up partying. You can easily move your party to your home. Only if it is noisy, then the place behind the sofa as a retreat is of course not the appropriate. In this case, you’d better choose the quiet bedroom for your dog.

This also means that attentive dog owners celebrate New Year’s Eve without firecrackers. For the sake of your four-legged family member!

Frightened Labrador under a red blanket
For anxious dogs, it can help to build them a den as a retreat

Disregard your whining dog – not!

It has long been said that you should disregard dog whining or howling so as not to encourage it. Because supposedly your dog would see any kind of interaction while he is howling or whining as a confirmation that this behavior is correct and therefore meaningful. That is, you are not comforting him with it, but confirming to him that there is a reason to be scared.

Meanwhile, science and dog training is further. Under no circumstances should you just leave a fearful dog to his own devices. Either comforting your four-legged friend will help. Or, in any case, it does not harm him. So please: comforting is allowed!

However, with the caveat that you do it right. That means you only pet your dog when you know physical contact will help him. And you don’t crowd him when you cuddle. Being taken in the arm will comfort the very few dogs – even if many a master or mistress may see it differently. Your dog should always have the oppotunity to withdraw if he wants to.

Girl kissing Jack Russell Terrier in black and white. Caption reads: Not many dogs like to be hugged. For most people, your presence is enough.
Not many dogs like to be hugged. For most your presence is enough.

As mentioned above, your dog looks to you as a “role model” and to some extent models his behavior on yours. So if you whine all the time “Oh poor you, now it’s New Year’s Eve and the fireworks are making you so anxious” and spread fear and anxiety yourself, it will also affect your dog. It does not make him calmer. So act normal and allow your dog both to seek comfort from you and to withdraw. Only then can your four-legged friend even think “Ok, if my master/mistress stays calm, then I’ll try this too.” He may even stop complaining and relax.

You can also support him by giving his favorite toy or food as a distraction. Those who eat or play have even less time to be afraid!

Tips to calm your dog on New Year’s Eve

If you already know that your four-legged friend turns into a shivering wreck on New Year’s Eve, you’ll have to help him in other ways. The above tips alone will not be enough, but they can support. You should definitely make a resolution for next year to train your pet with counter-conditioning. You can find a helpful article on this here: New Year’s Eve & Counter Conditioning – the Bang is Great!

But there are two other tips you can try if you want to overcome anxiety in dogs: the Thundershirt and the Relaxopet.

Thundershirt for dogs

To make exciting situations like New Year’s Eve more relaxed for your dog, you can try the Thundershirt. It’s a tight-fitting sweatshirt that applies pressure to specific areas on the dog’s torso for a calming effect (not just on New Year’s Eve).

A dog with a gray Thundershirt
The Thundershirt fits close to the body and is designed to have a calming effect on your dog.
Tight fitting thundershirt on a dog
You’ll need to practice getting dressed before New Year’s Eve, though, so you don’t add another stressor.

How this is going to help?

The tight-fitting fabric gently irritates the dog’s nerve system with its even firm pressure. This should distract him from the stress trigger (in this case, the New Year’s Eve noise) and calm him down. The same principle is used with babies (for example swaddling) or with some forms of autism (as Deep Touch Pressure). It also works with bandages, which require a little practice to apply.

Practice with this before New Year’s Eve, to see if it works for your dog. First to determine if your dog likes it and it helps. Because not every dog reacts favourably to it, just as not every baby likes swaddling. Very anxious dogs may need to get used to the sound of Velcro. Secondly so as not to add another stressor to New Year’s Eve.

You can buy the Thundershirt in seven different sizes for example at amazon:

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Relaxopet

Anyone familiar with the show “The Dragon’s Den” may have heard of Relaxopet: A small, wireless speaker is designed to ensure that our four-legged friends can relax in a variety of situations. The relaxation is to be caused by high-frequency sound waves, which are to calm our dogs in stress situations – like at New Year’s Eve. The sounds are barely audible for us humans, if at all. In addition to stressful situations, the small speaker is also said to help with a wide variety of behavioral problems by subconsciously inducing a deeply relaxed state.

Relaxopet has already been tested by other editorial offices: For example, the women’s magazine Jolie writes that test dog Bruno reacts to the sound, but does not remain quiet for long. Here, however, the test was conducted in everyday office life and not in a stress situation; Bruno was also not conditioned to the noise. Gala magazine also took a closer look at the invention from the “Dragon’s Den”. Both Gala test dogs reacted similarly here: after hearing the sounds, they calmly lay down in the corner. However, this is also a normal day and not a stressful situation. Also on Facebook the reactions are mostly positive, as seen in this video of the dog salon Dog Style. Also members in different dog groups report positive outcomes.

So the small speaker certainly seems to have an effect on dogs. How well it actually works depends on the individual dog’s personality. Also, there are probably dogs that respond more easily to the soothing sound waves and those that need to be conditioned to them first.

However, if you have an anxious or easily excitable dog, you should try the Relaxopet. It is available either specifically for dogs or as RelaxoPet Easy for dogs and cats.

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Sedatives for dogs

If the these don’t help either, then you could try a tranquilizer for your dog. Here there is the possibility of herbal or chemical means.

You can get purely herbal or homeopathic remedies without having to go to your vet, for example at the pharmacy or on amazon. There are numerous options that you can try out. Not every dog reacts the same way to the mixtures of different herbs such as St. John’s wort, valerian, chamomile and others. There are also different Bach Flower formulations, but not every remedy will work for every dog.

Please be aware that homeopathic sedatives do not work beyond the placebo-by-proxy effect. So if your dog is panicky on New Year’s Eve, you’ll need help from the vet.

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Other over-the-counter remedies, such as Zylkene or Adaptil (D.A.P.), use synthetically produced sedative pheromones that mimic those ingested by a puppy while drinking from its mother. Again, not every dog reacts the same way. But since these substances can also be absorbed through the mucous membranes, it’s useful that Adaptil spray for dogs is available for those that do not tolerate tablets easily.

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What all these remedies have in common is that you need to start giving them to your pet before New Year’s Eve.

If none of these remedies help and your pet’s panic becomes so severe that he starts hyperventilating or doesn’t calm down at all, you should talk to your vet. They can advise you and prescribe chemical tranquilizers for your dog. However, since sedatives, like all medications, have effects and side effects, be sure to give them only as per your vet’s instructions, following an examination of your pet.

Especially as some tranquilizers may make your dog appear calmer on the outside, but won’t take away his anxiety on the inside. Imagine being panicked and unable to move. You certainly don’t want that for your dog! You can find more information about this here at Veterinarian Rückert.

Take precautions

Know that New Year’s Eve is truly not your four-legged friend’s favorite time, it maybe worth considering ways to avoid the stress. Either by working to reduce your dog’s fear of loud noises through the year or possibly taking a break away to the middle of nowhee for a few days around this holiday period.

Relaxed dog, relaxed New Year’s Eve

We have already introduced you to the possibility of conditioned relaxation above. This works with smells, aids or even music. Also, you can counter-condition sounds. For example, you can try to associate loud noises with a particularly tasty snack. You do this by feeding it to your dog whenever there has just been a bang. With any luck, he’ll soon associate loud noises with his favorite snack rather than fear.

Otherwise only escape helps

Last but not least, there is always the option of going away over the New Year. Especially for anxious dogs, where nothing else helps, this is often the best solution. Here, a rather logical principle applies: rural regions far away from the big cities are particularly suitable for a quiet and relaxed New Year’s celebration without loud noises.

However, there are still special places that are particularly suitable for a noise-free New Year’s Eve. Nature reserves or national parks tend to be quieter on New Year’s Eve, if you can rent a vacation home in such an area.

Those who love the sea can also spend the start of the new year on the beach.

A dog lying on its belly on a beach
It doesn’t have to be the tropics, but beaches are often quiet places on New Year’s Eve.

If it is not to be a long vacation, you can also just go away for the worst hours and spend the New Year’s Eve hours on the highway, in a remote forest or at a rest stop.

I hope one of the methods helps and you have a relaxing New Year with your animal family member!

Do you have any other tips and tricks for a relaxing New Year?

We look forward to your comments!

Bild:

(c) Stefanie Vogt

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