Prepare your dog for a not so silent night
New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July always see a surge in lost animals, many of whom run off because they are so stressed by the noise. (Some say the smell of fireworks — their noses, like their ears, being far more sensitve than ours — bothers dogs as well.)
Some last-minute tips:
- Unless your dog has been gradually desensitized to the point that he can handle fireworks — and maybe even if he has — it’s best to leave him at home. Don’t take him to fireworks displays, or even outside during periods of peak boomage.
- Make sure — right now — that your dog is wearing his collar, and that his ID tags are on it.
- Find a quiet, secure place for him to hang out indoors. If your dog has a crate, make sure he has access to it, and to some toys that can occupy his attention. Close the curtains, turn up the radio or TV.
- Don’t leave your dog outside — even in a fenced yard. Fireworks could stress him out to the point that he might leap over or tunnel under what he normally wouldn’t. Remember that, even inside, the noise may lead to uncharacteristic behavior.
- Don’t leave your dog alone in a car, especially tonight.
- If you’re going out, make sure there’s nothing he can get into, tear up, or hurt himself on.
- If you’re staying home, fight the temptation to cuddle your frightened dog for the duration, as it only reinforces wimpy behavior. It’s OK to pet him, but it’s better to distract him with a physical activity than to spend hours cooing poor baby to him on your lap.
- Don’t scold him for his nervous reaction, as that will only confuse him. It helps if you act unbothered by the noise.
OK, now you can revel.
(Image courtesy of North Shore Animal League)