Dog on New Year's Eve: What to do about the fear of fireworks?

The turn of the year is a real challenge for some dog owners. The loud rockets, the colourful firecrackers and exploding fireworks can quickly upset even the calmest of dogs.

But why do so many dogs get scared on New Year's Eve? A quick look at the dog's sensory organs helps to understand the reactions. Dogs are not only more sensitive to light than humans, they also hear and smell much more than we do. This sensory overload ultimately causes panic for our four-legged friend.

Sensitive hearing

For comparison: humans hear frequencies between 20 and 20,000 hertz, whereas a dog hears between 15 and 50,000 hertz. Dogs therefore also perceive high-pitched sounds that we can no longer hear. So fireworks are not louder for our four-legged friends, but they perceive many more sounds.

In addition, a dog never completely switches off its hearing. Even when he is fast asleep, the smallest noise can wake him up and he is immediately wide awake.

So for a dog on New Year's Eve, two things come into play. On the one hand, he perceives the banging noises as a possible danger. On the other hand, the combination of volume and frequency of the noise - just think of a rocket taking off - ensures that furry noses experience these noises much more intensely than we humans do.

Sensitive olfactory organ

Humans have between five and 20 million olfactory cells, whereas dogs have an incredible 125 to 220 million. Many people only think of fireworks in terms of noise and lights. But especially for dogs, who orientate themselves mainly through their sense of smell, the odour pollution caused by fireworks is another stress factor.

Attention: The reaction to the noise of New Year's Eve does not have to be the same every year. Your dog may have always seemed relaxed on New Year's Eve, but the very next year he may suddenly be very anxious.

How can I tell if my dog is afraid on New Year's Eve?

While some four-legged friends simply withdraw or cuddle up to their owners in search of protection, others get downright panicky. Typical signs of anxiety in dogs are

  • heavy panting
  • Flattened ears
  • dilated pupils, widened eyes
  • restlessness
  • loss of appetite
  • trembling
  • Crouched posture
  • Tucked tail
  • Elongated mouth

 Immediate measures against firework fear

As soon as the first fireworks are set off, does your dog react anxiously and become nervous? Then you should try the following tips and advice to take away your pet's fear and minimise the risks for him.

Always keep your dog on a leash on New Year's Eve

Even on New Year's Eve, dogs must get their exercise. However, to make walking as stress-free as possible, it is best to walk during the day and in quiet places. Take your dog to the forest, for example, and avoid the big city, where the "banging" usually starts hours and days before the New Year. Keep an eye out - even after New Year's Eve - for rubbish, broken glass and duds.

In addition, you should always keep your dog on a leash on these days. After all, you can be surprised everywhere by the loud bang of a New Year's Eve rocket. You should not underestimate the danger of your dog running away in fright, not being able to find its way back or even running into a busy street.

Go indoors with your dog

As darkness falls, the sounds of the first New Year's Eve rockets increase. Now, at the latest, it is time to go back indoors with your dog.

Even though it is customary in most countries to spend the New Year's Eve outside in the street, you should stay with your dog and not leave him alone in his agitated state.

Turn on the television or radio

In addition to keeping the windows closed, you can try to drown out the fireworks sounds with other sounds that are familiar to your dog. Play your favourite music or turn on the radio. Sounds from the TV, washing machine or dishwasher can also have a calming effect on your dog. But don't overdo it with the volume, as this could further unsettle your dog.

Distract with smells or special treats

Dogs who are not yet under too much stress or for whom it is their first New Year's Eve can sometimes be distracted by special smells or particularly tasty treats. The goal: Your dog should take his concentration away from his sense of hearing and focus on his sense of smell and taste.

For example, you can lay an interesting scent trail through the flat for your dog to sniff. Furry noses may also be happy about special treats that make them forget the fireworks noise for a short time. A Kong filled with our Wet Food and briefly frozen can also be a good and relaxing distraction.

Radiate calm and composure

However, the most important thing to remember with all of the above is: stay calm and composed in everything you do. Signal to your dog that all is well and show him that the noises outside are quite normal. If you yourself become nervous and hectic in the face of your dog's reaction, all other assistance will be in vain.

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