New Year’s Eve is such a fun time for a lot of people. They love to go out, watch the fireworks, and have a great time with all of their friends. For many dog owner’s, their dogs are their best friends, so they take their dog along to holiday festivities without hesitation, including to watch fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
This is a bad idea.
Here’s why you should avoid fireworks with your dogs on the holidays, and some options for you if you intelligently choose to enjoy the fireworks without them:
1. Fireworks Are Incredibly Stressful For Dogs
On July 4th and New Year’s Eve, humans see fireworks and understand the context of these explosions. So, the stress response in the average person, has been desensitized and our brains do not sense the need to shift into survival mode. Some people may be more sensitive to the sound, but most of the time, barring extreme or traumatic circumstances in certain individuals, they still understand that fireworks do not present an immediate danger.
Dogs do not understand the context of human holidays or fireworks – they just see and hear big explosions in the sky and fear the worst.
People don’t understand that when dogs see balls of fire exploding in the sky, the visual and auditory stimulation totally stresses them out. Their brains are not expecting the explosion, so the barrage of sound can send their brain into survival mode. Not only does the noise freak them out, because their hearing is incredibly sensitive, but all the lights and commotion spikes the stress levels in your dog. That’s why taking your dog to see fireworks is definitely not recommended.
2. Think About Your Neighbors
If you leave your dog at home while you go see the fireworks, you should still take some precautions. Kids in your neighborhood may shoot fireworks, or if you live in or near a rural area where people will be lighting fireworks, there is a good chance that your dog will experience unwelcome noises and flashes of light. It’s a good idea to leave the lights on in your house and the TV on pretty loud so that the sounds that they do hear will muffle the light and sounds of explosions.
3. Loud Noises Are Scary
If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, it’s highly likely they are also afraid of fireworks. In that case, it’s a good idea to lessen the severity of all that noise and light if you can. A Thundershirt can really help soothe stressed dogs during times like these.
4. A Dog Crate Will Help
If your dog is crate-trained, this would be an excellent time to crate them. Keeping a dog in a crate during a time like that is actually very comforting for a dog, and it lowers their stress levels. If they are not crate-trained, contact us to talk about our training options. Not to mention that if they are crated, they are less likely to attempt escape trying to flee from all the commotion.
5. No Dog Crate? Practice Damage Control
If you are leaving them at home but not in a crate, it’s a good idea to keep them in an area where they can’t do much damage. Dogs that are stressed out tend to do things like eat holes in your furniture, pull-up flooring, or tear into the sheetrock in an attempt to escape the noise and bright flashes of light. Not having an exit in a situation that is perceived as dangerous is just as terrifying for dogs as it is for humans.
6. Familiar Places Help Reduce Stress
If you can, keep them in a bathroom, an enclosed spare room, or if you have a moderately sized laundry room this may provide them with the same sense of comfort that a large crate would. A room without windows is best. Otherwise, your bedroom can work well. They would likely have a comfortable bed or familiar place in there where they could try to sleep or at least find comfort.
7. Leaving Your Dog Outside
If your dog has access to your yard through a doggie door, or you have to leave them outside during the time you will be gone, you’ll want to make sure that your dog has a collar on with a rabies tag, a name tag, and preferably a microchip. It would be safe to say that the majority of dogs in the shelters on New Year’s Day have run away from home on New Year’s Eve, because they were stressed out from all the fireworks. If they don’t get hit by a car by some miracle, they are usually found wandering the streets. If they don’t have a name tag or microchip, people won’t know how to get them back to you. Make sure your microchip is registered online and up to date. You wouldn’t believe how many dogs are found and when their microchip is scanned, it comes up blank. This is a no brainer!
So, this New Year’s if you just can’t stay home with your dog, we hope some of these tips help. And, we hope that you have a happy and safe rest of the holidays. Happy New Year, dog lovers!
Jordan the Golden Retriever… by Pete Markham
Chinese New Year by Aapo Haapanen