Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

Ringing in the New Year- Making it fun for your dog!

If you’re like most pup-obsessed parents, you look forward to weekends, holidays, and any extra time away from work as more time you can spend with your four-legged loves.  You find dog parks near you, make up excuses to go to Home Depot, and Sunday brunch venues have one requirement:  dog friendly.  The celebration of a New Year is a great time to spend that bonus time with your pup, but there are some extra requirements for spending the biggest party night of the year with your furry favorites.  
 
If you’re going to be ANYWHERE that there are fireworks, you’ll need to take some precautions or even consider another venue if your dog is afraid of fireworks.  
 
Most dogs get scared of fireworks due to the loud noise and their first reaction is usually to run.  You remember the old “fight or flight” response from psychology?  Well, the sound from fireworks is something they can’t actually see, so it’s a mysterious noise from the sky that could easily send a dog in to flight mode.  According to the ASPCA, more pets go missing on the 4th of July than any other day of the year.  With New Year’s Eve being the 2nd biggest day that we use fireworks, it’s definitely something pup parents need to prepare for.  

How do you do that?  Glad you asked!

One of the best things you can do is consider where you are going.  Is it to a party in a residential neighborhood or near a city center where there will be fireworks?  If so, consider dropping your pup off with a friend or family member that won’t be near fireworks.  Boarding your dog for the night is also an option.  
 
If you are staying home, but you know there will be fireworks in your neighborhood, you can do the following to prepare:

 

  1. Get your dog tired before the potential of fireworks going off.  Take them to the park or for a nice lllooonnnggg walk.  If they like to swim, take them swimming (weather permitting, of course!). This will get them more relaxed for the evening.                                                                                                   
  2. Create a “safe space” at home where your dog will feel comfortable and most of all- safe.  This could be their normal dog bed or their crate, if they sleep in one.  It could also be YOUR bed- we all know they love to sleep there!  Put some of their favorite toys and treats in the safe space, so it’s really inviting to them.  If you can, let your dog choose the space so it’s even more comfortable.                                                                                                       
  3. Prepare yourself to NOT coddle or baby your pup if/when they show signs of fear during the fireworks.  This only makes it worse.  Your pup will take its queues from you, so if you make a big deal of them being scared, then they feel like they really have a reason to be scared!!  Be sure to stay calm and demonstrate that there’s nothing to worry about and no reason to be scared.  Dogs read energy extremely well, so giving off a calm energy vibe will do wonders.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  4. Buy some new toys for your pup to play with or plan to play some indoor games that will keep his mind otherwise occupied.  If you have an active or ball-driven pup, a good game of indoor fetch will keep them so focused on the ball, they might not even hear the fireworks!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  5. If you’ve been through this before and you know your pup is going to be on high alert and SUPER edgy, can also use sedation tactics in various methods.  There are “thunder shirts” that calm some pups down with compression.  There are also essential oils that are calming for dogs, but the trick is to let your pup pick which oil is calming for them.  Just like people, some things work for some and not for others.  Your pup also may not like oils that you like- for example, I love lavender, but my boys hate it!  There are other homeopathic remedies as well such as “Rescue Remedy,” or travel anxiety medicine.  Another option is CBD oil*, which is relatively new on the pet scene- it’s an all organic blend derived from hemp (all the good stuff, none of the bad & totally legal) that has tons of benefits- such as stress/anxiety management, pain management and relief from digestive issues…just to name a few.  
The most important thing to remember with any of these tips is to prepare in advance.  You certainly don’t want to take your dog for a romp in the park or try to get their safe space ready during the fireworks.  And waiting until their anxiety level is at an 8 or 9 before you give them CBD oil will not help bring their anxiety down.  Plus, that will stress you out and nobody wants that energy coming in to a New Year!  Spend a little time getting prepared in advance so that you and your pup can have a great evening at home. 

From all of us here at Rocky’s Retreat- Have a safe and happy New Year!  

*If you’re interested in learning more about CBD oil, send us an email or stop by and see us!  We sell it at Rocky’s Retreat!