In many ways, New Year ’s Eve comes with a lot of the same challenges as bonfire night when it comes to dogs, noise and stress, and this time of year almost always brings with it fireworks, lots of other noise, and general upheaval and busyness that can prove to be very stressful for dogs.
If you are dreading another New Year’s Eve of trying to coax your dog out from under the sofa or clearing up puddles of pee, get a head start on making things a little better for your dog (and yourself!) this New Year’s Eve with our ten top tips on keeping your dog calm and comfortable over the holiday.
First of all, don’t be caught by surprise when the fireworks start up on the night itself-you know that they are likely to happen, so plan ahead for how you intend to manage the evening as it gets progressively louder and more rowdy! Obviously, if you know that your dog will not cope well with the noise and bangs, you will want to ensure that you are all ready to manage things when they do happen, but also, try to desensitise your dog to fireworks, bangs and other noise as an ongoing process throughout the year, and not just something that you think about in the run-up to New Year’s Eve itself!
Have someone at home
If your dog is likely to be very stressed out and possibly even a danger to themselves on New Year’s Eve, you might have to face the fact that one member of the family will have to miss the parties and stay at home to take care of your dog. Decide on this ahead of time, to save an argument on the night!
Restrict your pet
Keeping your dog restricted to just one room of the house, or their crate or bed if they are crate trained, can actually help to keep them calm and under control, so make that room or place comfortable and reassuring so that your dog will see it as a safe resting place and not a punishment.
Covering to some extent the sound of noise from fireworks and other sounds from the street can help to mask and muffle them, and so, reduce the effect that they are having on your dog. This might mean having the radio or TV on a little louder than normal, and you should set this up well before the bangs are likely to start, so that it covers, rather than adds to the stimulus.
As well as the bangs and booms of fireworks and noise from people at parties, the flashing lights that come with fireworks too can disturb and upset your dog. Close the curtains so that your dog will not spot the lights and so, be likely to react negatively to them.
Pheromone collars and diffusers
Pheromone diffusers, collars, plug-ins and herbal remedies that are designed to calm down your dog can be very helpful at this time of year, when it comes to taking the edge off of stress and panic. Ask your vet about the sort of products that they recommend, and use these for your dog if they might be helpful.
Wear your dog out!
It is not a good idea to take your dog out walking on New Year’s Eve after dark when all of the noise, partygoers and fireworks are likely to be kicking off, but taking your dog out for a really long, energetic walk earlier on in the day is a great idea. A dog that is very tired will be less likely to panic or react badly to noise and stimulus, so prepare ahead with a long walk whilst it is still light outside!
Give your dog something to do
Playing with your dog, getting them to work for treats and giving them a new toy can all serve as good diversions for a dog that might otherwise get stressed out, so try to think up something that your dog will enjoy doing and that will get them thinking about something other than the noise going on outside!
You should strive to act normally when your dog is acting up, as your dog will take their cues from you, and respond accordingly. If you are not bothered by the noise and acting as if there is nothing to be worried about, your dog will pick up on this. However, if you pander to your dog and make a big fuss about how upset they are, their behaviour will actually become more acute.
Go somewhere quieter
Finally, if you live in real hotspot of New Year’s Eve activity, such as in front of a park that will have a fireworks display or next door to a rowdy pub, you might want to consider taking your dog to a friend’s house that is a little bit quieter on the night itself. While you are unlikely to be able to go somewhere that will be totally silent, visiting someone who lives in the country or in a more rural area can all make things a bit easier!