I have a Golden Retriever named Buddy. In the past, Buddy hasn't been bothered on Independence Day, Pioneer Day or New Years Eve. However, this year was different. It may have been that we did more fireworks, or louder fireworks, or he just might be getting older and more set in his ways. Whatever the reason, Buddy was a basket case this year.
If you have a similar situation, here are some tips that might help you out:
First, remember what it is that is frightening your pet. The first thought is always the sound. But, remember that dogs in particular have a very acute sense of smell, and the burning of the fireworks can be an additional trigger for him. The bright flashes, people yelling and screaming as well as the booms of the fireworks all add to the stress level of your animals. Because of this, be sure that your pets have ID and collars on. If they do run away, you want to be sure you can be contacted by anybody that finds them.
Second, there are some very simple and obvious options, such as taking your pets to a friends or a kennel while the fireworks are going on. If that is something you are considering, try to ensure your pet is comfortable and familiar with the location, and that the likelihood of fireworks going off in the new place is very low. It would be a shame to take your dog to a new place where she still hears fireworks.
If you are going to keep your dog at home, prepare a spot for her in a nice quiet room in the house. This may mean putting their sleeping pillow or special toys in the room to help put them at ease. Giving them a special treat to chew on can also act as a great distraction while the fireworks are going on.
Third, try to prepare in advance for the sounds. Playing recorded fireworks sounds (like those on my videos) at increasing louder volumes is an option to help dogs adjust and become used to the bangs, pops and crashes.
Fourth, if you are with your dog, remember that he will be watching you to determine how he should act. If you are jumping up and down and yelling with excitement, he will get the message that this is a particularly anxious and exciting time. If possible, reassure him by acting in a calm and relaxed manner.
Finally, a thundershirt or anxiety wrap is another option to help your pet. These act similar to a swaddle for a baby. If you don't have a thundershirt, you can create a home made one with an old t-shirt. Just place the dogs front legs through the arm holes and the head through the neck hole. Then, tie the excess fabric up on top of the dogs back to create a tight and (hopefully) soothing wrap for your dog.
Hopefully these tips will help Buddy, as well as your pets, have a wonderful, loud and exciting New Years Eve.