Unfortunately, there are many dogs and cats who are anxious about shots and bangs. Some people get so scared that they can react by acting out. Some will try to burrow down and try to run away. It can take several weeks to get over the trauma.

Training the fear of rockets in dogs and cats can be a time-consuming process, so it may be too late to start this just before New Year's Eve. It is best to start training already at the puppy/kitten stage.

How to train away the fear?

There is a CD you can buy from us, which can help train the animals at home. Here it is important to follow the instructions that come with it. This is a CD on which sound from bangs and fireworks has been recorded. You start at a very low level and gradually increase. If you notice that the animal is becoming anxious, you have set it too high and you must set it lower again. Eventually you try to increase the volume again and so on until the animal does not become anxious at a high volume. It is important not to move forward too quickly, so you have to be patient.

You can also train away the fear of dogs outside. After a long training session with the dog, you can go somewhere a good distance away, for example a shooting range where you can barely hear the shots. Feel free to end the training session here when the dog is calm and take a short break here before going home. The next day you do the same, just a few meters closer. Here again you have to go back a bit if you notice that the dog is reacting with stress/fear. This is something you have to start with well in advance, as it can take a very long time before the fear is trained away. During the training, it is important that the owner stays calm. Dogs sense if their owner is stressed, and this can make them uneasy. Behave normally and do not show that you feel sorry for the dog by comforting it.

Now, in the weeks before New Year's Eve, you should go for long walks and make sure that the dog gets plenty of exercise, so that he is not left with excess energy when the barking starts. If it has a lot of energy, the fear can be intensified.

It might be a good idea to tell your neighbors that you have a dog/cat who is very anxious about bangs, so if they can avoid launching rockets before New Year's Eve, this would be greatly appreciated. If they are absolutely going to send them up, at least ask them to let you know, so you can be a little prepared.

Never be alone

Dogs/cats must never be alone on New Year's Eve. Dogs are welcome to be taken on cabin trips far away from others to avoid as many shots and bangs as possible. If this is not possible, you must keep the dog indoors, preferably in a room without windows, possibly draw the curtains if this is not possible, and turn on the TV and radio at a fairly high volume. If possible, you can leave the dog with other dogs that are not afraid. Many people may feel tempted to take the dog outside if it does not respond to the sounds inside, but this can lead to one going from a dog that copes with the bangs to a dog that will be terrified later. It may also be a good idea to put cotton in the dog's ears so they don't hear the bangs as well. Feel free to give your dog a chew bone or something to distract him. You should check with your vet about what kind of chew bones you can give, as many tend to splinter easily.

Cats must also be kept indoors and must not be left alone at home on New Year's Eve. Make sure the cat flap is closed so they don't have the opportunity to get out if they are startled. Give your cat the opportunity to hide under furniture or on shelves that are a little high. Cats feel safer if they can sit high and have an overview. Cats like to retreat when startled, so it's important to leave them alone. It is on days like this that it is extra important that your cat/dog is ID marked, as they can run away if they are frightened.

Calming pheromones

You can also use pheromones, DAP for dogs and Feliway for cats, which have a calming effect on the animal. You can buy that from us. This is not a drug, but a natural fragrance produced by the nursing mother. This has a calming effect on the puppies/kittens, and it can also have a calming effect on many adult animals. For dogs, you can use either a DAP collar or a diffuser. For cats, the diffuser is the best. The diffuser is plugged into a socket in the room the animal will be in. This must be switched on two weeks before New Year's Eve and must be left on constantly until one week after New Year. If you have both a dog and a cat, you need one for each. Pheromones are species-specific, so the same pheromones do not work on both dogs and cats.

Sedative medications

There are many dogs who need tranquilizers on New Year's Eve. It is also in some cases also necessary for cats that are very afraid. Talk to your vet about this well before New Year's Eve, as starting on the same day will not help. If it is the first time your animal uses the tablets, it is important to test with a very weak dose, as the tablets can have the opposite effect (they can become more stressed). The sedative tablets only work to reduce anxiety. It is important not to give drugs that make the animal more lethargic, as this can only make the pain worse and they may become more fearful than they would be without the medicine. The reason for this is that the sound experience is amplified and the animal will feel that they have no opportunity to protect themselves. If sedative tablets are given, it is still just as important that the owner stays inside with the dog/cat.

Check the sound sensitivity

Sound sensitivity does not necessarily have to be due to fear. Dogs with pain in their ears, for example due to an ear infection, may react to loud noises. If sound sensitivity is something your dog struggles with normally, it's a good idea to have it checked by a vet.