Animal Behaviorist and Author Shares Pet Tips For New Years Eve

Author Diana L. Guerrero encourages pet safety during celebrations such as New Years Eve. Read her holiday safety tips and hints for pets.

There are ways to desensitize a pet to fireworks and related noise, but it takes time and preplanning.

As New Years Eve approaches, it is important to encourage pet owners to prepare for their pets' sake--and safety. The loud noises during this holiday traumatize many animals during the holiday celebrations. Fireworks, aircraft, and other related racket may turn pets into a quivering mass of jelly, or have them bolt as a result of their fright; they may also be destructive to the home, or even worse, to themselves.

There are ways to desensitize a pet to fireworks and related noise, but it takes time and preplanning. If this holiday is right around the corner, there are a couple of things owners can do to assist their pets through this short period of potential trauma.

Author and animal behaviorist, Diana L. Guerrero said, "First people have to understand that 'comforting' their pet, although done with good intentions, can actually reinforce the fear and panic. You could call it 'training by accident' so it is best to refrain from that activity."

She clarified, "Reassuring your pet is different from the cuddling, petting, holding, and trying to physically relieve the stress. It is best to soothe your pet by your tone of voice and by remaining calm. My students are taught to use key phrases to alert the pet to inappropriate behavior first, then they encourage calm acceptable behavior from the pet." The age of your pet, socialization, experience, and breed can also influence their reactions.

The best preparations, that you can use at such short notice, is to make sure that your pet has ID tags with current information on them, and that they are safely secured both before and through the holiday period.

Guerrero suggests a few other quick temporary options:

-crate your pet at home
-kennel the pet professionally
-keep the pet confined/restrained indoors
-use drug therapy (tranquilizers/anti-anxiety medications as prescribed from your veterinarian)
-use alternative therapy (your holistic veterinarian or therapist will provide a list)
-play classical music or jazz to soothe pets and camouflage other noises

Ideally your home environment is the best holding area for your pet.

Ideally your home environment is the best holding area for your pet. It is suggested that you put your animal in a quiet room or into a crate.

Guerrero said, "Confinement or crates serve as a 'den' for your pet and will help them to feel more secure--if this is trained right and done gradually there is a good association with the confinement. Even without advance preparation they can be good tools for emergencies."

Long periods alone in a crate should be avoided. Some dogs will not like being confined if you do this too quickly and many will protest by howling, whining, barking, and pitching a fit.


If you have the time, it is best to gradually train pets to "crate." Put food or a treat in the kennel with the door secured in an open position.

"Crates that contain solid sidings with air vents work better than the wire ones

Later, work at closing the door for a few seconds and praising them for staying in confinement quietly. Gradually lengthen the time spent in the crate with you there, and then with you leaving the room. Guerrero suggests, "Crates that contain solid sidings with air vents work better than the wire ones. Wire crates tend to be more open and feel less secure and your pet could damage their teeth on them more easily."

If you are using a room in the home, the best one to restrain an animal in is the bathroom, laundry room, or secure garage. The room to choose is one where there are no windows to jump through, or where they can be blocked off, and are too high and narrow to access.

Guerrero said, "Also try to darken the room and crate. Be sure to play soothing music at a level that helps drown out the firework noise. It is ideal if a family member can be at home with the animal through this time. These are the types of things that will help most pets feel more secure and calm."

Before the holiday, be aware that fireworks may be set off before dark. Keep your dog on a leash when toileting, and make sure that your pets have on a secure collar with the name and phone number of the veterinarian, and owners. Put your pets "to bed" early before celebrations and the fireworks start.

Always check with your veterinarian and behavior specialist before using any drugs or tranquilizers, and don't forget to watch out for guests opening doors up which can provide an opportunity for animals to bolt outdoors.

For further help, Guerrero encourages you to contact your veterinarian or your local animal behavior specialist prior to the holiday. She has additional animal tips and tidbits on her website www.arkanimals.com.

"What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality" (ISBN 1893361845) is published by SkyLight Paths, a division of LongHill Partners, Inc.
 

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