Put the myth down: It is the dog owners’ fault, if the dog is scared off fireworks

Pretty much all dog owners know from early on, that the puppy needs to be familiar with the sound of fireworks. The breeder has often started the training and it is continued in the puppy’s new home.

Despite all good intentions, then it’s not possible to imitate a real New Year’s Eve. The fierce gleams, sudden sounds and smell of powder in a big mix, that can’t be streamed from YouTube.

We can to an extend get the dog accustomed to sound training, which will help the dog a little. All dogs are different.

Some a more sensitive mind than others, which means all small impacts the are exposed to are tremendous.

The brain of the dog can only cope with a certain amount of impressions, which has to be processed and used.

A puppy’s skill to handle new impressions is limited and therefore to cope with fireworks is a huge job that often fails. Mainly because the puppy doesn’t have the ability to do it.

The lack of ability to cope is partly due to the many demands we apply to puppy on a daily basis. It already loaded with stimulations,  so New Year’s Eve on top is a huge challenge for the puppy – both hearing, vision and olfaction are challenged.

If you have an older dog that perhaps is suffering from arthritis and reduced vision, then the dog uses a lot of energy on being present and keeping it self together.

It means the excess to handle fireworks (and other situations) will be reduced.

It’s not uncommon for older dogs who in the past have showed no fear of fireworks suddenly responds to it.

Knowing some dogs are not afraid of the fireworks, then far most fear it.

The fear can occur in many disguises. Some bark loudly, hide in the basement, shiver, panting, squeaking or walk around restlessly.

It’s a normal healthy reaction for a dog to respond to the fireworks. The dog hears 4.5 times better than a human being, so New Year’s Eve is loud seen from the dog’s point of view.

When something dangerously shows up, the nerve system of the body reacts and says to watch out. The different stress hormones are being produced. The result can be various, so the dog can fight for itself and handle a dangerous situation.

It’s not natural, not responding to the fireworks, which happens to be dangerous and a threat towards the dog.

A dog is not supposed to learn to cope with shooting off firework since it’s supposed to defend itself.

You can help your dog around New Year by not overly stimulating it, so it’s capacity to cope with the firework is larger.

Read more about how to get safe though New Years here!

With this said, it’s not correct that if the owner trains the dog to loud noises, than the use of firework is no problem.

The use of fireworks should be totally forbidden for the sake of the animals.

By Veterinarian Lise Rovsing and dog trainer Hanne Truelsen


The dark side of the law for dogs!

Wednesday afternoon a dog had to give up its life because of an owner’s bad judgement.

Pablo 2 years old came to the owner adopted  from a shelter a year ago.

Pablo has always been a sensitive soul. All things were therefore taken into consideration to get Pablo integrated into the family, which also counts another adult dog.

Daily Pablo had been trained around other animals and humans with his owner, and daily there was a little progress. Slowly Pablo gained more and more faith in his surroundings.

Yesterday Pablo went out for a walk. He was in a familiar area, where they rarely met other people, Pablo’s owner had chosen not to keep him on a leash. Pablo met some people, got scared and put his teeth in them.

The police arrived and made an arrest of Pablo’s owner and they both went to the police station.

The law for dogs (hundeloven)!

Pablo’s owner is fully aware of the consequences of the law (Hundeloven). He knew the next step would be that Pablo is boarded at a shelter, while the case is being processed.

The psyche of Pablo is at a level, where it would break him again to be taken from his familiar surroundings and owner. The result would still be due to the consequences of the law and the unfortunate occurrence, that he is being put to sleep.

The owner of Pablo makes the decision himself, that Pablo is being put to sleep right away. The owner didn’t want a case processed that would lead to fatal consequences for the dog.

They decided to go to Artemis, where Pablo would feel at home. He should end his life in a safe environment, especially with the stressful situation in mind.


Pablo came into the examination room, ate a tray of liver pate and feel to a final sleep with a very miserable owner by his side. Two police officers were on the other side of the door. Nobody was comfortable about the situation.

The owner of Pablo went with the police, and Pablo was being prepared for cremation. Later in the afternoon I got a text, that the owner of Pablo was back home, and he would like for the other dog in the family to get to say goodbye to Pablo.

Pablo had to be taken out of the freezer so his good buddy could sniff a goodbye. A very touching moment that will late be forgotten.

The responsibility!

Fact is that Pablo is gone. He is gone because the owner didn’t take the right precautions. The owner of Pablo should had been more careful about his dog. Pablo should never had been placed in a situation with the opportunity to biting. Pablo should had been on a leash and it’s the full responsibility of the owner. The owner of Pablo is fully aware of it.

The law is not justifying – because it is the people who are the problem – not the dogs. The dogs are the losers in this game.

Do I feel upset about Pablo dying? Yes, but I feel even worse about that we have some laws that make the animals the guilty one due to human failure.

Let us have another look at the law. There gotta be other answers to the challenges than just taking the lives of the animals.

Read the Danish version here! 


Help your dog through New Year’s Eve

People all over the world will all soon get around Denmark to celebrate the New Year with fireworks.  How can you best help your dog get through the days when the loud and harsh sounds of exploding fireworks are all around and the sky is lit up by flying rockets?

Dogs hear 4.5 times better than humans.  For them, the sound of fireworks can be a very violent experience.

If your dog is not yet frightened of fireworks?

You have a great possibility to prevent them from developing fear of the sound of fireworks.

A dog’s behavior is often mirrors that of its owner.  If you are calm and relaxed, then this will have a positive effect on your dog.

If you hear a sudden explosion on the street where you dog is .. try to keep yourself completely calm. Do not to react.  Your dog will look to you for a lead and will notice that you, yourself are not frightened.  This will help the dog believe that there is nothing dangerous about the events that have just occurred.

Where a dog is frightened, you shouldn’t begin to try and feed your dog snacks or treats as a form of comfort. You will be rewarding your dog for being frightened and there is nothing positive for your dog to learn – quite the opposite, this can reinforce your dog’s fear of fireworks.

Stay calm and keep walking.

You have a dog which is very frightened of fireworks?

The degree of fear varies from dog to dog and naturally any treatment of this fear will need to be adapted to the specific dog.

Once a dog has developed a fear for fireworks, it will not simply go away by itself.  The fear can get worse year by year.  Worse, if the fear isn’t treated, it can develop into a general fear of loud noises or even going out for a walk in the dark.

It is thus very fundamental that steps are taken to remedy this as early as possible – the less fear the dog has exhibited the easier it is to help them!

New Year’s Eve!

On New year’s Eve itself it is very important that you have taken your dog for a good walk. Choose an area where there is less likely to be fireworks being shot off like a forest, beach or swamp.  Keep the dog on a leash!  If it gets frightened it might run off – no matter how at ease  it is normally to take the same walk.

Try and let your dog use its senses during the walk – for example, you could put some treats on the ground and let the dog look for them.

Another idea is to use soft treats or snacks and put them up in tree stumps and other places where the dog has to really use its senses to find them. In this way, the dog can become tired in a natural way by being gently stimulated – but do remember to try and not over stimulate your dog. Overstimulation increases the dogs stress level.

You should also not try and take your dog out for a walk while there are the loud explosions of fireworks outside.  Try and take a little time and plan your day and evening.

If your dog is very insecure then pay attention to this and take steps to mitigate the effect accordingly.  Don’t hold a loud and noisy party as this can make the dog even more stressed and will make its fear over the fireworks even greater.  If you can take steps to generally make the evening overall less stressful for the dog, it will be much better placed to see through the evening.

Plan an activity!

Be prepared to have something to distract your dog when the fireworks are at their worst. It could, for example, be a fun game or having access to a tasty bone but, once again, please remember not to excite or stress your dog too much when doing this.

You can also use a toy which you can put some food into. You can put snacks into a dishtowel – where you make little knots in the towel and put the snacks into the knots so that your dog has to work with its sense of smell to find the snacks.  Your dog should also use some energy in trying to lick the snack out of the towel – the action of licking tends to relax a dog.


 Let the dog choose its own resting spot!

Your dog should choose itself where it wants to be. This could be close to you, under the bed or in its basket or pillow.

Protection from light and sound!

You can help your dog by covering up your windows so that you cannot see the light flashes which come from the rockets.  Play quiet music to distract it from the sound of the fireworks. If you don’t have curtains at home, try using black plastic garbage bags to cover the windows. Shielding the dog in this way will offer protection from both light and sound.

Build a cave!

Build your dog a cave. For example, you can use a coffee table and lay a heavy duvet over the coffee table so that your dog can relax inside the homemade cave and feel more secure.  A heavy blanket or can be used to reduce the sound even further.


Some dogs are very happy for the so called “thunder shirt” as it provides a comforting pressure on the body.  If you can get access to this clothing it may help. Sometimes though a nice duvet to snuggle under can also be very comforting for many dogs.

Give a helping hand!

There are many different products that you can buy over the counter which can help relax a dog. Products such as Kalm, Zylkene and Aptus relax are often used.

In some instances, though it is necessary to get prescription medicine and there are new products which can block the fear reflex without making your dog drowsy. Speak to your vet on the various options which are available and always be aware that your dog needs to have a health check before you can get the prescription medicines.

If you don’t know how your dog will react to the various substances then it is always a good idea to try them before you have to use them on New Year’s Eve.


Most important of all for having a good – or at least a better – New Year’s Eve is:

  • Be prepared and have decided which treatment and action you will use
  • If you know beforehand that your dog is very scared by fireworks – prepare for the fireworks well in advance of the actual firework season starting
  • Make sure the dog has had a good walk before it gets dark outside
  • Never shout or tell your dog off for being frightened or try to force it to get over its fear. Instead, let it know that you have noticed that it is scared and let the dog know that the dog can come to you for comfort, security and peace.
  • Shield the dog from light and sounds
  • Try and be calm yourself. Make it clear that you have understood that the dog is frightened and that it is completely ok if it doesn’t want play or eat snacks or chew on a bond.

Even if you dog has never shown any fear of fireworks, you should know that there is no guarantee that it can’t suddenly develop it.  Older dogs that have previously been completely calm can, as their hearing deteriorates with age, suddenly show signs of fear quite simply because they cannot recognize the sound in the same way as before!

Alternatively, you can always plan to hold your New Year’s Eve away from the City’s fireworks.

Happy New Year!









Quick guide to understanding your dog.

Learn the language of your dog 

A dog communicates through body language. The most important signals are the calming signals They tell us, if a dog feels pressed, stressed, or uncomfortable. These signals include:

  • licking their mouths
  • a smacking sound
  • winking their eyes
  • turning the head to one side
  • pulling the ears back
  • wagging with the tail lowered

If you observe your dog giving any of these signals, consider what is going on in that moment and act accordingly.

For many dogs there is too much going on in their daily lives. A grown dog should sleep around 14 hours a day. A puppy needs about 16-18 hours of daily sleep!

Read more about puppies and exercise here!

Stimulating the body and mind

The stimulation of a dog will to be different according to its  race and age. It can therefore be hard to observe general rules here. Certain activities are, however, more stressful than beneficial.

When you throw something to fetch, it increases the pulse and stresses the dog.

Do not:

  • throw a stick
  • throw a ball
  • play any kind of wild tug of war games

Certain kinds of toys also stress the dog. Dogs have a hearing ability thats is up to 4,5 times what humans do; so a little “squeak” can be really loud for them.

Watch a movie about why fetching should be avoided!

Stop playing with squeaky toys or remove the part of the toy that makes the sound.

The sniffing walk

Always use a harness and a loose leash.

Collars apply unnecessary discomfort and can lead to damage in the neck and throat. The harness should allow the dog free movement in the shoulders and front leg.

This harness is sitting in a correct maner.

If your dog pulls on the leash the constant pressure from the collar will stress the dog even more, which worsens the situation. If you need to have a tight connection with your dog, a harness provides you with a safer grip.

The dog needs a loose leash for it to choose where it wants to sniff. Flex lines are not allowed. By using a flex line your dog feels a constant pressure from a tight leash and it feels restricted throughout the whole walk. Flex lines feel like steel wire and often cause damage to both dogs and humans.

The daily exercise has to be on the dog’s terms. We humans tend to rush and let the dog follow us. Slow down, walk slowly. Give your dog choices. Let it decide, where it wants to sniffle and for how long.

Some dogs are highly sensitive. Even smaller inputs can feel very disturbing. That’s why not all dogs thrive in an environment of much activity and noise.

Not all dogs are happy greeting other dogs.

Read more about meeting other dogs here!

Calm and relaxing activities

Relaxing activities are important for the well-being of your dog.

Intensive sniffling reduces the level of stress. The dog uses its nose; let it feel free to do that as much as possible.

Let your dog search for treats during the walk: throw a fistful of treats over a large area and let your dog calmly search for them. It lowers the pulse and feels good. Searching for treats can also be done at home and is a meaningful and calming way to end the walk.

Calm chewing on a bone or a “kong” is another relaxing and joyous activity for everyone!

Watch a movie about good activities to enjoy with your dog!

The dog’s space 

Give the dog the opportunity to withdraw when you are at home. When it rests, leave it alone and do not disturb it. Family and guests should respect that the dog is not up for endless cuddling and talking to, just because WE want to pet our dog. We also need to teach our children to respect the dog’s withdrawal and its need to be free from social contact.

Little tools for communicating

Our body language says more than a thousand words. If the dog does something you disapprove of, ignore the action and keep QUIET.

The behaviour we want we reward, the behaviour we disapprove of, we ignore.

Obtain a good connection with your dog with a simple tool: use a smacking sound. When the dog looks in your direction, reward it with a treat within three seconds. Right then you give the dog a treat, you reward the correct behaviour.

Learn the hand signal: turn the palm of your hand towards the dog. That is the signal for “it’s okay”. This signal can be used in many situations, when you wish to tell your dog not to worry:

  • When you pass people, dogs and things, that seem to upset it.
  • When the doorbell rings and the dog runs towards the door.
  • When the dog begs or tries to jump up and down.

“Get in the way”: If e.g. a situation of conflict is about to occur, physically move in between your dog and the challenge. Lead your dog away from the situation.


Walking in a curve / curving:   When dogs meet in nature, they walk in a curve toward each other.

If meeting other dogs is a challenge for your dog, practice to walk in a curve. You can also cross to the other side of the street.

If contact with other dogs should be practiced, walk in parallels. I.e. you and your dog walk in a parallel with another dog and human. Keep a good distance and practice moving closer gradually.

If you learn to implement these practices/habits in your daily lives, you are offering optimal conditions for your dog’s well-being.

Read the Danish version here!

A puppy shouldn’t be worn out!

By veterinarian Lise Rovsing & Hanne Truelsen from Snudekompagniet!

Are you the happy owner of a new puppy, there are a lot of things to look forward too.

One of the greatest pleasures of owning a dog is the walks that you will experience together. However, it will take a while before this becomes a part of everyday life.

The puppy takes over the house with its energy which will test your patience. This might lead you to think that the puppy needs to be worn out physically and what better way to do this than to take the puppy for a nice long walk?

STOP – a puppy should NOT be taken on long walks or be worn out.

A puppy needs a lot less exercise than you might think. The puppy only needs to go out for short walk to relieve itself.

When the puppy arrives at its new home it is usually between 8-10 weeks old. However the most optimal time to move the puppy from its familiar surroundings is actually when the puppy is between 9-11/12 weeks old!

How much exercise does a puppy need?

During the first month of bringing the puppy home, it only needs to go out for 10-15 minutes a day.

As part of the housebreaking it is natural that the puppy needs to go out many times during the day, which is fine, but it shouldn’t be taken out for walks. The puppy only needs to go out to relief itself and the sniff around in its new surroundings.

A puppy will relieve itself where it feels safe, which is why puppies often relieve themselves inside the house or in the garden. This is also one of the reasons why the puppy shouldn’t be taken for long walks, as it will not relieve itself if you just walk around in different places.

When the puppy is approximately 4 months old you can increase the walks with 5 minutes, which will add up to 20 minutes a day. At 5 months you can increase the walks with another 5 minutes and so on, until you reach 30 minutes a day. A puppy should not walk more than 30 minutes a day until it is fully grown. When a puppy is fully grown depends on the breed.

Let your puppy sniff!

When you take your pup out for a walk it should be on its terms. It’s very important that the dog gets to sniff around as much as needed. This means that you should make as many stops as the dog requires and wait for the dog to finish sniffing.

A puppy shouldn’t be worn out by too much exercise. Too much exercise can make a puppy stressed.

Stress has a lot of consequences for the puppy and can show itself in many disguises.

Typically the puppy will be unfocussed and have trouble relaxing and resting, it will pee excessively, it will hump object, which has nothing to do with its sexuality and it will drink a lot. The puppy will also take longer to learn to be alone at home as well as it will take longer to be housebroken.

If you have a garden, it is easy to let the puppy out several times during the day. Have in mind that even a small trip to the garden, is a major input for the puppy’s brain to process.

Small experiences make a BIG impression!

From a puppy’s point of view, a small experience makes a huge impression, a lot more than you might think!

A puppy should only be exposed to new experiences every three to six days, which ensures the most optimal development of the puppy’s psyche.

Slow down!

Making an effort and giving the puppy time to a just, will give you the best result for a harmonious healthy dog.

We as humans can also benefit from slowing down. If you want to do what’s best for the new family member it’s important to calm household and give the puppy time to a just.


Stop displaying sick animals!

These days videos are often shared online.

A bulldog is shown running up a hill.

Halfway up it stops and rolls down the hill. The bulldog gets back up, continues up the hill, only to fall down again.

Some people think that watching the dog tumbling down the hill “is funny”, as if, by it’s own free will, it rolls down the hill.

STOP STOP STOP! Dogs don’t think things are funny! Fun is a manmade property we project onto our animals.

The video does not show normal behaviour for DOGS. The DOGS behaviour is not motivated by it’s own free will.

The dog rolls down the hill for one reason only.

The bulldog is bred “brachycephalic”, which means that the bones in the skull is pressed together in such a way that there is little room for the soft structurea eg. the soft palate.

Many bulldog have narrowing of their airways, which means that the bulldog can have difficulties breathing.

The strain of running up the hill causes the dog to lose conciousness because of the lack of oxygen, it collapses and falls, only to roll down the hill. Shortly after it recovers and tries to run again.

Loss of conciousness by exertion due to a heart condition cannot be ruled out either.

The video shows an alarming tendency in our society: we fail to see the signs of illness in animals and interpret their behaviour as “funny tricks”, when in reality the dog has a serious condition.

This is NOT funny! I hope that we can stop these wrong interpretations, and not let animals poor health entertain us.

An animal are not just lazy!

“Look at the “lazy” animal”!

So called ”funny” videos of dogs and cats are all over the internet such as a dog crawling out of bed, a dog that grunts and snores loudly, a dog which walks or runs in a “funny” manner, a cat that ”dances” or is used for entertainment.

The videos are followed by funny remarks and are shared amongst thousands of people, who find amusement in watch the animals in distress.

Dogs and cats are not lazy – it’s a trade assigned by humans.

The cause of the animals so called ”laziness” is often serious health problems.

The grunting and snoring dog has severe problem with narrowing of the airways, restricting it of air, which makes it grunt and snore.

The dog with a”funny” gait, has severe problem with its legs, which causes the dog extreme pain when trying to walk normally.

It is never funny to see animals suffer.

If everyone would just learn the language of the animals then maybe the humor would have a change of character.

Se den danske version af denne artikel her!

Dogs DO NOT experience guilt!

It’s not fun to watch a dog being scared!

First things first: Dogs DO NOT experience guilt. Guilt is a human trade, we as humans mistakenly impose our animals.

A video has been circulating the internet, which has also been shared by Ekstra Bladet and several other medias around the world..

The video shows a man pointing an object which has been chewed on at two dogs. He asks the dogs in a very threatening manner, who of them has chewed on the object.

One of the dogs turns away from the man. The man continues, moving towards the dogs with the object. One of the dogs creeps up to the other dog and hides its head.

This is apparently a situation that many people find amusing.

The poor dog is obviously very scared of the man and is showing all the signs of submissive behaviour.

Dogs use submissive behavior to show friendliness, when feeling threatened.

Picture 1: The dog turns its face and putting its ears back, which is submissive behavior.

Picture 2: The dog turns away from the man, which is submissive behavior and a sign of friendliness.

Picture 3: The object is getting closer. The dog is withdrawing itself and attempting to turn away from the man.

It is a very stressful situation for a dog to be spoken to in such a manner and at the same time being confronted with an object as if it was being thrown at it.

The dog is displaying amazing behavior. Instead of trying to defend itself and its friend, the dog is using its body language telling the man to stop threatening them.

I don’t think that it’s fun to watch a dog being scared. It makes me sad that this is the sort of video that brings amusement to some people. It clearly shows that a lot of people don’t know the dogs language and therefor misinterprets different behavior in our pets as ”funny”.

This is NOT amusing in any way!

I think that it’s very unsettling that a media such as Ekstra Bladet is exhibiting humans’ inability to read dog behavior and therefor having fun at the expense of a very scared dog.

Read the Danish version of the article here!

No, not all dogs need to greet!

Written by: Veterinarian Lise Rovsing (Dyreklinikken Artemis) & Hanne Truelsen (Snudekompagniet)

Most dog owners are familiar with the following scenario:

You are walking your dog wearing harness and on its leash. Suddenly an unfamiliar dog comes running towards you.

From a far the owner shouts:” don’t worry, my dog is friendly”!

A second later, the two dogs are at each other’s throats, and you are forced to drag your dog away from the other dog. After a few minutes the owner of the other dog comes and collects his/her dog.

It is a common misconception that all dogs, should be able to interact with each other.

Dogs are racists, whom often like their own breed.

Not all dogs have been socialized since puppyhood. Some might have had bad experiences which make meeting other dogs a trial.

RESPECT that you do not know the story behind all dogs. If an owner has his/her dog on a leash, there is usually a reason why. The owner is showing responsibility, leaving the leash on the dog, knowing that the dog isn’t comfortable with unfamiliar dogs.

The notion that all dogs should be able to interact with each other, is outdated. The more we can learn about animal behavior, and the better we get to know our own dog and learn what it’s comfortable with, only then do we know when to put on the leash, and when to walk away from a potential conflict.

It should always be respected, when a dog owner expresses that the dog does not want to greet.

If everyone showed the same curtesy, many conflicts could be avoided.

Remember these guidelines on your next dog walk!

  • It is okay if your dog, DOESN’T love all other dogs! As long as you, take your precautions.
  • It is okay to put your dog on the leash, if you sense trouble. Dogs don’t always figure it out themselves.
  • It is okay if your dog is a ’racist’. Dogs ARE racists’ and know the difference between breeds.
  • It is okay to cross the road, if your dog sees another dog it’s not comfortable with. It’s always better to avoid conflict.
  • It is okay to place yourself between the dogs, if they start to play too rough. They don’t have to “figure it out for themselves”.
  • It is okay to take your dog out for short walks. Dogs shouldn’t just be “worn out” physically.
  • If your dog growls because it’s uncomfortable, remove it from the situation. It doesn’t mean that your dog is aggressive it means your dog has a language, which you understand.
  • It is okay not to scold your dog aloud for doing something it’s not supposed to, as long as you praise correct behavior!

All of the above is based on dogs’ language.

Learn your dog’s language by reading and understanding its signals, by doing this you are one step closer to a good life with your dog.