Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks?
by Pet Qwerks Toys on December 18, 2019
Some dogs really don’t like firework celebrations. As soon as the first explosion happens, they run and hide under the bed. This reaction is completely normal, but that doesn’t mean that your pup is having a good time. Keep reading to find out why your dog is scared and what you can do about it.
Your Dog Doesn’t Know What Fireworks Are
The main reason that dogs are scared of fireworks is that they have no idea what’s going on. Remember, your dog doesn’t know how to read a calendar. That means that they probably aren’t aware when it’s New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July, so they aren’t expecting a late-night celebration.
To your dog, those strange bangs and pops probably sound like gunfire. They can smell the powder in the air with their sensitive noses, and even if they don’t know what an explosion is, they know that it smells dangerous.
To really understand their fear, pretend that you’re the dog in this situation. It’s a holiday, so the household activities have been far more exciting and exhausting than usual. It’s late at night, and the family has either settled down or gone out for a celebration. The dog is sleeping peacefully in the house or patrolling the back yard.
Suddenly, explosions start happening in the sky above. They’re too close to get away from and too far away to do anything about. The noises are loud and don’t happen in a regular pattern, so there’s no way to know when the next big boom is going to happen.
When fireworks go off, your dog feels startled, confused, and powerless. These are the ingredients for a fear reaction from anybody. For your sweet domestic pup, the result is usually cowering under the bed.
Dogs Have Extremely Sensitive Hearing
Even if your dog recognizes the fireworks, they still might not like them. That’s because dogs have extremely sensitive hearing.
In particular, dogs can hear higher-pitched sounds exceptionally well. Most people associate the sound of fireworks with a loud bang. But if you pay close attention to the moment just before the explosion, you’ll also hear a really high-pitched whistle.
To your dog, that whistle is significantly louder and much higher in pitch. The strange whistling sound will immediately grab their attention. Then, just when their ears are perked up and they’re wondering what they heard, the firework goes off with an extremely loud bang. It’s no wonder that your dog hates the sound.
Training Your Dog for Fireworks
There are a few ways that you can help your dog become more familiar with fireworks. The earlier you start, the easier it will be to help them stay relaxed during the celebration.
First, if you have plenty of time until the big day, you can try acclimating your dog by playing firework sounds on your phone. Use treats to create a positive association with those loud snaps and pops. Turn up the volume over the course of several months until your dog is unphased by the sound of a boom in the distance.
This training method takes a lot of time and patience. If you’re reading this article, you might be worried about fireworks that are happening this weekend or even tonight. If that’s the case, you’ll need to take different approach.
Preparing Your Dog for Fireworks
Spend some time with your dog before the fireworks happen. Take them for a long walk so that they’re tired out. Give them hugs, share a meal, and help them feel secure in the family.
Prepare a place for your dog to feel safe during the celebration. This might be their crate, your bedroom, or a corner of the quietest room in the home. Make sure that they have access to blankets and their favorite toys.
Give off calm and happy energy during the day. If you’re leaving the house, consider turning on some light classical music so that your dog has something else to listen to.
Staying Calm During the Celebration
The best way to keep your dog calm during fireworks is to be there with them. Dogs look to their owners for comfort and approval. If you aren’t worried about the fireworks, they won’t be worried either.
Don’t try to baby or over-comfort your dog unless they’ve already shown an intense fear reaction. The last thing you want is to make them think that things are wrong. Watch some television, and invite your dog to sit on the couch or by your feet. If they start shaking, give them a pat on the head or a hug.
Consider distracting your dog with snacks. A tasty piece of chicken will do wonders to calm your pup down. Give out small pieces until the fireworks are over. When the noise is gone, reward them with the rest of the meat.
Definitely don’t take your dog to the park to see the fireworks. There’s a very low chance that they’ll appreciate the light show and a very high chance that they’ll be scared by the up-close noises.
Alternative Ways to Help Your Dog Calm Down
Some dogs really won’t calm down during a fireworks show. If your dog is shaking or crying for the entire Fourth of July, you might want to consider a stronger solution.
First, consider using a swaddling jacket or a thunder vest. These devices wrap around your dog and create a sense of security. You should probably introduce your dog to the thunder jacket well before the event starts; you want them to associate wearing it with calm, happy times.
If your dog really won’t calm down, you can also try using a medication or herbal remedy. Confirm what the supplement does before you give it to your dog. Choose remedies with mild calming or sedative effects that will help your dog relax until the celebration is over.
It’s not easy to be a dog during a firework celebration. Be compassionate towards your canine friend, and let them know that they can count on you while the sky is exploding overhead.
About the Author:
Olivia Harper is the co-founder of the blog Daily Dog Stuff. She is a reserved and passionate pet parent who loves to spend time with her Sibe, who keeps her active and social. Read more of her guides and tips by visiting the blog or following their page @dailydogstuff.