The New Years Dilemma

It’s New Years Eve tomorrow, which brings about the usual issues that dog owners face year after year. Fireworks.

Luckily we don’t have an issue with fireworks or thunderstorms. Not because we live in some sort of paradise-like bio-dome bereft of celebrations and weather, but because none of our huskies give a flip what is happening that far up in the sky. I know quite a few huskies that are the same, I’m not sure if it’s the breed or the owners but many huskies don’t seemed phased with fireworks.

Tayla’s usual position during fireworks, not fussed in the slightest.

Unfortunately that isn’t the same for everyone, so here are a few things to keep in mind and try during the festivities on Monday night.

  1. Go for a long walk or go to a dog park before you start celebrating. Try to wear your dog out, and then hopefully by the time the fireworks come there won’t be as much interest.
  2. Distractions are great for getting your dog use to disregarding the noise. Encouraging your dog to do other things during fireworks can help your dog learn to ignore them. Do some obedience training, try some tricks, play with some toys, anything to keep the dog distracted. This doesn’t mean fill them up with treats, as that can be seen as rewarding them for feeling anxious. If possible try to start distracting them before (or as soon as) the fireworks start. It will be easier to distract the dog if it doesn’t have time to get itself worked up.
  3. Make your own noise to help cover up the fireworks. Depending on how close they are then just putting music on or turning the tv up a little can help to drown out the unfamiliar noise. If you have roller shutters or blinds then close them also, as they can help block out the noise and the flashing.
  4. Make sure that your dog is safe and secure, wherever they will be. Many dogs get out of the yard during fireworks. Sometimes the flight response kicks in and they run. If you are going out and the dog is at home by itself then make sure the yard is secure (especially for huskies and malamutes, who are expert escape artists at the best of times). Also make sure that the dog has somewhere sheltered to go in case of a freak out. It’s important to make sure that your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag with a phone number on it, just in case the worst does happen.

Keep calm and carry on

Anything you do while the fireworks are going should be calm and positive. Don’t start showing too much worry for the dog, or start cursing the fireworks and running around. Dogs often look to us to learn how to react. If you seem panicked and anxious (for whatever reason) then your dog might too.

Don’t try to overly comfort the dog to make up for it being scared, as dogs often see this as approval of what they are doing and how they are feeling. Letting a dog jump on your lap (yes I know some huskies that try to lie on their owner’s lap) and being overly affectionate during distressing times can reinforce the anxiety and make it harder to break.

For the puppies out there…

Like many other potentially problematic issues like strangers, cars, and children, we got Logan desensitised to fireworks and thunderstorms very early. During his first thunderstorm Drew sat out the back with him, every time Logan started paying attention to the noise and getting anxious Drew would distract him and get him doing something else. Doing that a few times during thunderstorms and fireworks led to Logan not caring in the slightest, which is great because our neighbours love fireworks. If you have a puppy this is something that you could try, you might be able to nip the problem in the bud early on.

Logan as a brave (fireworks free) puppy


3 thoughts on “The New Years Dilemma

  1. has good advice. You’re not supposed to coddle them and pet them during a thunderstorm – it reinforces the behavior and it will get worse. Basically, you ignore them. They’ll be fine when it’s over.As stated, the vet will prescribe something if you want, but you have to give it to the dog before the storm, which is often hard to predict. Even then, YMMV. I believe in less medication whenever possible, so I was never big fan of that.My old black lab Millie who passed on on 9/30/06 was deathly afraid of thunderstorms. We’d get them in the middle of the night sometimes, and I’d awaken to her jumping into my bed – even at her old age – and literally trying to get inside me. It killed me to have to bring her off the bed, but if I had left here there and kept reassuring her and petting her, it would have been the wrong thing to do.My yellow lab, Kobi, couldn’t care any less about a thunderstorm. He hears it, but it doesn’t bother him one bit.

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