Dog on new year’s eve: what to do about the fear of fireworks?

A dog on New Year's Eve is afraid

Many dogs get scared on New Year’s Eve.

The glowing fireworks at midnight are the highlight of New Year’s Eve. Most dogs see it unfortunately differently: They whine, run restlessly and trembling by the area or hide themselves panic in the farthest corner. Read how to deal with your dog on New Year’s Eve, how to help him and how to prepare him for the fireworks spectacle.

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Why do some dogs get scared on New Year’s Eve?

The turn of the year becomes a real challenge for some dog owners. The loud rockets, colorful firecrackers and exploding firecrackers can quickly upset even calm canine minds.

But why do so many dogs get it on New Year’s Eve with the fear to do? In order to be able to understand the reactions, a short view of the sense organs of the dog helps. Because dogs are not only more sensitive to light than humans, but hear and smell a lot more than we do. This sensory overload ultimately causes panic in many a four-legged friend.

Sensitive hearing

For comparison: humans hear frequencies between 20 and 20.000 Hertz, a dog, on the other hand, between 15 and 50.000 Hertz. Dogs also perceive high-pitched sounds that we can no longer hear. Fireworks are not louder for our four-legged friends, but they perceive much more noise.

In addition, a dog never completely turns off his hearing. Even when he is fast asleep, the slightest 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. It perceives the banging noises on the one hand as possible danger. On the other hand, the combination of volume and frequency of the noise- one thinks only of a starting rocket- for the fact that fur noses experience these noises very much more intensively than we humans.

Sensitive olfactory organ

Humans have between five and 20 million olfactory cells, while dogs have an incredible 125 to 220 million. Many think in connection with fireworks only of the sounds and the lights. But especially for dogs, which orientate themselves mainly by their sense of smell, the odor of fireworks is a further stress factor.

Attention: The reaction to the New Year’s Eve noise 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 become 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 really panic. Typical signs of anxiety in dogs are:

  • heavy panting
  • flattened ears
  • dilated pupils, widened eyes
  • Restlessness
  • loss of appetite
  • Trembling
  • Crouched posture
  • Pinched tail
  • Elongated mouth

At the latest, if your dog shows these symptoms on New Year’s Eve, you should definitely intervene and stand by him. But how do you calm down such an upset dog?? After all, the fireworks outside can not be turned off simply by pressing a button.

Immediate measures against fireworks fear

As soon as the first fireworks are ignited, your dog reacts fearfully and becomes nervous? Then you should try with the following tips and pieces of advice to take the fear away from your darling and to minimize risks for it.

Always leash your dog 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 go for a walk during the day and in quiet places. Take your dog to the forest, for example, and avoid the big city, where usually hours and days before the turn of the year with the "bangs" is started. Pay attention- also after the New Year’s Eve on garbage, broken pieces and duds.

In addition, you should always keep your dog on a leash on these days. Finally, you can be surprised by the loud bang of a New Year’s Eve rocket anywhere. You should not underestimate the danger of your dog running away from fright, not being able to find his way back or even running onto a busy road.

Go into the house together with the dog

As darkness falls, the sounds of the first New Year’s Eve rockets also increase. At the latest now it is time to go back inside with your dog.

Even if it is customary in most countries to spend the turn of the year outside on the street, you should stay with your dog and leave him in his agitated state Do not leave alone.

For particularly anxious dogs, it is not enough to be able to hide in a quiet room. At this moment they need their caregiver near them to give them security.

Close doors, windows and shutters

The loud bang of the fireworks unfortunately penetrates even through thick house walls. However, closed doors, windows and shutters can muffle the sounds somewhat. Many dogs already calm down by doing this. Some dogs also react nervously to the bright flashes of light in the sky. If you do not have shutters on your windows, you should therefore at least close the curtains.

Turn on the TV or radio

In addition to closed windows, you can try to drown out the fireworks sounds with other sounds familiar to your dog. Play your favorite music or turn on the radio. Sounds from the television, washing machine or dishwasher can also have a calming effect on your dog. But do not overdo it with the volume, because 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 the first New Year’s Eve, can sometimes also be attracted by special smells or particularly tasty "morsels" distract. The goal: Your dog should withdraw his concentration 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 apartment for your dog to sniff out. Furry noses may also be happy about special treats that make them forget the fireworks noise for a short time. A Kong filled with cream cheese and briefly frozen can also be a good and relaxing distraction.

Radiate calmness and composure

The most important thing With all of the above measures, however: Remain calm and composed in everything you do. Signal to your dog that all is well, and show him that the noises outside are normal. If you yourself become nervous and hectic in the face of your dog’s reaction, all other assistance will be in vain.

Labrador hides äfearfully under a blanket

© Magnus Pomm /

If your four-legged friend reacts anxiously, you should first of all radiate calmness. This is the best way to help him.

Should I quiet my dog on New Year’s Eve?

The assumption that you increase the fear of the four-legged friend by comforting him is a mistake. Positive feelings cannot reinforce negative feelings. On the contrary: as with humans, the dog’s body secretes the "cuddle hormone" Oxytocin out as soon as he experiences affection. This causes the amount of stress hormones to decrease and the dog relaxes. The giving of attention by caregivers in fearful situations is called "social support" (Social support).

Never deny your four-legged friend the affection he seeks in such frightening moments. Otherwise, the trust between dog and human can be severely damaged. As far as the right kind of comforting is concerned, you as the dog owner are the experts. You know best what your four-legged friend finds pleasant and what not.

Can I give my dog calming medication on New Year’s Eve??

No dog has to suffer from fear or even panic! The downward spiral even leads to the fear of fireworks being added to the fear of anxiety. The panic attacks can thus get worse every year.

For a dog with a low New Year’s Eve fear, the above measures may be sufficient. Supplementary preparations declared as food supplements can be tried. These preparations have a natural calming and relaxing effect.

Zylkene® contains an active ingredient derived from milk, which makes newborns feel comfortable. Against the New Year’s Eve fear, however, is a significantly higher dose, as for a normal therapy, necessary. Other preparations workover the relaxing effect of valerian and green tea. They also contain tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, the hormone of happiness.

Pheromones against fear

Scent diffusers for the outlet, sprays or collars that spread an artificial pheromone are also a possibility. This is based on a messenger substance of the mother dog, which she sends out to relax her puppies. There are also tablets with this pheromone, which can be used in the short term.

Since every dog is different in its health condition and behavior, please ask your veterinarian about possible supplements and their appropriate dosage. Also the administration of Bach flowers or homeopathic remedies can be tried.

Remedy for dogs with extreme fear

For a dog with extreme fear and panic, these remedies are not sufficient! Please take care in time to a possible medicinal support. Some preparations must be slowly introduced days before New Year’s Eve in order to develop their full effect.

Never and in no case give your dog acepromazine! This neuroleptic and sedative seems to work well from the outside, because the dog is calm, but leads to the fact that the dog is paralyzed and at the same time much more sensitive to noise. So the dog continues to have a panic fear of the sounds and can no longer defend himself. The panic will increase with each year.

There are however quite good anxiety-relieving medicines, which help your darling to overcome the New Year’s Eve without panic. Approved for the treatment of noise anxiety are, for example, dexmedetomidine in gel form or the antiepileptic drug imepitoin. Your veterinarian can help you find the appropriate preparation for your frightened dog and its dosage.

In case of massive behavioral problems, please be sure to consult a veterinarian specialized in behavioral therapy.

Can the fear of fireworks be treated?

Anxiety in dogs is treatable. Dogs that are fearful of fireworks on New Year’s Eve usually become alarmed at other noises, such as a thunderstorm. Therefore, you should also ask yourself why these noises make him so anxious. Therapy under the guidance of an expert can then help to get to the bottom of the causes, so that they can then be combated in a targeted manner.

Dog on New Year’s Eve: desensitization at the touch of a button?

Another form of therapy can be desensitization with the help of a sound CD or corresponding audio files from the Internet. One plays the fireworks noises to the dog first again and again quietly before. If the dog remains calm, the volume is gradually increased.

Encourage your dog in relaxed behavior. If he becomes nervous or anxious, take a step back again. In this way, you can gradually desensitize the dog to the firecracker sounds. However, such a method takes time and should be started many weeks before the big fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Other measures against anxiety

In addition to the already described possibilities of help, there are numerous other methods to take the fear of fireworks away from your dog. Even if their success is controversial, it is worth a quick look: Some dog trainers work with the TTouch method, founded after the Canadian Linda Tellington-Jones. Special touches of the hands are intended to release tensions in the animal and set self-healing forces in motion.

Some dog owners also use body bandages, which are intended to give the dog a sense of stability and thus security. ÄThe so-called "Thundershirt" also has a similar effect, which consists of a firm fabric and is tied tightly around the dog’s body. The gentle, continuous pressure on certain soothing pressure points has a calming effect on many dogs.

Noise reduction on the dog itself can also be a possibility. Either with a cotton ball in each ear and a scarf around the head to fix or soundproof headphones. The only important thing is: The dog must feel comfortable and must not be additionally panicked by the measures taken.

And at the next turn of the year?

Despite all these measures, many dog owners look forward to the next New Year’s Eve with tension. Because even if you have managed to calm your dog to some extent, he will enjoy the turn of the year in the rarest cases. The loudness of the rockets, the hustle and bustle of the people and the excited atmosphere in the house: These are things that very few dogs like.

If your dog has shown fear or even panic this New Year’s Eve, please seek canine behavioral therapy soon. Together you can work calmly over the year on the problem and discuss a possible medication for the next New Year’s Eve.

A nice alternative is, of course, a vacation in a place where, for example, for conservation reasons, the burning of fireworks is prohibited. Finally, the peace and quiet at the turn of the year can sometimes be quite healing for us humans, too!

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