With New Year’s celebrations taking place this weekend, please do not bring your pets anywhere where there will be fireworks. 

Dr. Leeanne Bargen, who practices out of PetVet in Steinbach, says loud noises like fireworks and gunshots can be very scary to your pets. 

She advises you to keep them away from the festivities. 

“Taking your dog to a fireworks display is one of the biggest mistakes an owner can make, especially with a young dog.”  

Dr. Bargen says when a dog is between four and eight months old, that is when they are the most susceptible to developing these fears. 

“There's a real period of time where they create strong, fearful memories when they're exposed to a really scary stimulus.” 

She says if you can avoid fireworks and gunshots, they are less likely to be afraid of thunder and lightning as well as other loud noises like the vacuum. 

"Dogs who are scared of fireworks often become scared of storms, and then those sort of generalize and intensify as they get older,” she says. "We often have to use medication to help those guys survive through those scary situations.” 

If your pet is currently scared of loud noises, Dr. Bargen says there are steps you can take to help them overcome their fear. 

"And this could be for cats or dogs. If they see the vacuum and they're like, ‘oh gosh, it's the vacuum. I hate that thing,’ give them a reward as soon as they relax and disengage from it.” 

Dr. Bargen shares her personal experience with her own pet. 

“I had to teach my little dog to not bite the vacuum,” she says. “And so every time I turned the vacuum on, she was excited. And then I would do nothing, and she would go, ‘oh, it's not doing anything.’ And I reward that moment of ‘oh no big deal’ until I could vacuum the house and not have her attack it.”