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Dogs & Fireworks - Help Is Here

Many Dogs Are Afraid of Fireworks

Do not worry – Help is Here

New Year’s Eve is a trying time for dog owners in many countries, it feels especially challenging here in Holland. Amsterdam and large parts of the whole country become war-zones. It is a congregation of pyromaniacs and explosives enthusiasts. On the eve almost anything that catches fire is lit up, and most of the fireworks are explosives. To give you a clearer picture in terms of money, the damage caused by fireworks in Holland totalled € 13 million during the last New Year’s Eve celebration.

This congregation usually starts its annual blast a couple of months early and ends a few months after the New Year started. Until I experienced it myself, I could not have imagined how much the main event on New Year’s Eve resembles war. And yes, I believed it was bad, and that belief used to be at the core of my problems.

My anti-firework story

It begun a few years ago when I lived close to Amsterdam city centre with my puppy Onni. We enjoyed watching the mad fireworks together from the balcony of my apartment. Onni had no trouble with the lights, noises, smells or the smoke that was really thick, and at times got into the third floor apartment. Then in February one year the disaster struck – someone threw a firework directly at us. It exploded in front of our noses while we were walking along a city canal. It scared us both. Onni however, shook it off like dogs do, but I kept that story alive by sharing it with everyone. Not surprisingly it happened again in November of that same year.

These incidents were the beginning of the years of firework terror for both of us. I felt sorry for Onni; I pitied him, and saw him as broken. I hated the fireworks because they scared my dog, and I got very angry every time I heard one. I saw my dog as a victim. Onni felt my anger; he was shaken, scared, and anxious. He acted like a victim. He fulfilled all my fears and worst expectations.

The truth is that what you resist will persist

This ensured that there were a lot of loud fireworks. He would spook at all loud sounds as soon as the days started to get shorter as if in preparation to his full-blown end of the year panic-attack.

Few years ago I learned about the power of our beliefs, thoughts and emotions. I used this learning in different areas of my life for quite some time until I finally realised that I actually kept reinforcing my dog’s fears. I decided to find out if I could undo the damage.

When we see someone as a victim it is really difficult for the individual to feel anything but like a victim. This applies to both, people and animals. We are subconsciously wired to fulfil the expectations that are put upon us. We have to consciously know who we are, and what we want in order to be able to ignore expectations that do not serve us.

Last New Year’s Eve marked the beginning of recovery, and we did great! There was no shaking or panting, just some loud barking around midnight. I chose to accept the fireworks and keep my energy clear, happy and Zen. I chose to see Onni as a healthy, happy and confident dog. Around midnight I realised, that confidence wasn’t the best characteristic for this situation – Onni was very confidently angry and tried to bark the fireworks away. So my expectations were not perfect yet, but we made significant progress. Anger is a much better emotion than the fearfulness of a victim; it was a giant step up from horror!

Next time I will add relaxed and calm to my picture of Onni, and I will not only accept the fireworks, I will learn to love them!

If you have a dog who is stressed about fireworks, now is a good time to start preparing for the New Years season; it takes some time to learn how you can balance your own energy. It sounds very simple, and it is simple. With my help it will also be easy!

Learn how to help your dog survive fireworks

Do you want to learn how you can help your dog survive fireworks or navigate through other challenging situations?

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