Why Dogs Are Scared of Fireworks – And What To Do When They Are
This is usually a frightful time for pooches as much as we might love it. Dogs are usually afraid of fireworks because of many reasons.
1. They Are Loud!
Remember that dogs hearing is A LOT better than ours and therefore they will hear things louder than we hear them. This means already loud fire works will be super noisy for them. Some high-pitched whistles may also be more noticeable to them than to us..
2. They Are Unpredictable
For a dog seeing fireworks going off, they won’t know what is happening.
Dogs do not know the calendar (or do they?), so would not suspect their usual 4th of July evening would be just like any other. The unpredictable timing combined with the random sound (sometimes fireworks are loud booms, sometimes whistles and sometimes cracks) will heighten the anxiety of your precious pooch.
These two reasons lead to the dogs perceiving fireworks as a threat that they need to run from or fight. This may lead to them running to the sanctuary of the house or running away from the house when confused.
Is My dog scared?
There are obvious signs that show a frightened dog. These may include:
- ears back
- tail between legs
- hiding in the safety of a corner or hanging around you
- running off (try to prevent this)
- growling, whining or barking
- biting and lashing out at people who come close to them while they are scared
How to Help Dogs in Times of Fireworks
Firstly, do not scold your dog for feeling scared as this will only worsen the issue.
Bring Your Dog Inside
Bringing your dog inside into the safety of the house well-before the fireworks start. This is not only to dull the sound slightly – but primarily to prevent them from running away.
Buy a Thundercoat
For my dog, Griffin, we have a thundercoat. This is a special jacket that is very tight fitting which can lessen anxiety and help to calm dogs down.
It can also be used in thunderstorms.
Provide a Safe Space
If your dog has a safe space in the house, like his bed or crate it would be good to lead him in there as this will help him feel more safe.
For more effect, you could put on music or white noise to drown out the sound of the fireworks as well as give him his favorite blanket or chew toys.
Long before the fireworks will actually take place try to train your dog to be happy in times of loud noises.
This can be done by calming your dog down and playing recorded sounds of fireworks on low volume and giving your dogs cuddles and treats to reward him for calm and good behavior.
Over time, turn up the sound of the fireworks and give your dog positive encouragement. Training your dog this way should only be done in short time intervals, so as to not create a negative memory for your dog and worsening the issue.
Not all dogs are frightened of fireworks and these measures should only be taken if your dog is afraid.
Also, remember that dogs take their behavioral cues from you, the owner, and if you are anxious or overly reacting to the fireworks, your dog will be too.
It is important to not overdo the cuddles and positive encouragement as this could lead the dog to think something is wrong, leading to anxiety.