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Firework celebrations can be a dazzling spectacle for humans, but for many dogs, they are an absolute nightmare. 

New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July are the two major holidays where bright flashes and loud booms fill the air, all while people cheer and look in awe at the amazing creations in the sky. 

On the other hand, our furry friends either cower and tremble or frantically try to escape the sound of fireworks. In this article, I try to delve into the world of canine psychology to uncover the reasons behind the fear of fireworks. 

Besides learning the reasons behind this quite common canine behavior, I’ll also provide you with some tips and practical strategies that you can implement to soothe the anxiety and transform this terrifying occurrence into a more comforting experience.  

Understanding Why Dogs Are Scared Of Fireworks

scared dog hiding under blanket on the bedscared dog hiding under blanket on the bed

Dogs have a natural predisposition to fear loud noises and sudden bursts of light. 

In 2013, the School of Clinical Veterinary Science at the University of Bristol conducted a study on behavioral signs of fear and anxiety in pet dogs on exposure to loud noises. 

The researchers found that almost half of the responding dog owners reported that their dog showed typical signs of fear when exposed to loud noises such as fireworks, thunder, or gunshots. [1] 

Dr. Gary Richter, D.V.M., says, “Fireworks create loud and unfamiliar noises that the dog does not understand, and they perceive them as signs of danger.”

The loud sounds of fireworks can trigger the dog’s fight-or-flight response, or in most cases, a natural reaction to run or hide, and try to find a safe haven.

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This kind of behavior is so common in dogs that over the years, July 5th, the day after the biggest fireworks display in the country, has become the busiest day for animal shelters. 

The new infographic from 2015 shows that animal control officials from all over the country have reported a 30% increase in pet loss each year between the 4th and 6th of July. [2]

Fireworks Are Unpredictable

Although to we humans, fireworks for holidays such as New Year’s and the Fourth of July are normal and very much predictable, but to our dogs, they are not. 

They don’t have the ability to know when such things are going to happen, which results in even more fear. 

Fireworks Are Loud

It is well known that dogs and many other animals have much better hearing than humans. Dogs can hear nearly twice as many frequencies than humans, and frequencies that are far too high-pitched for us. 

Moreover, they can hear sounds that are four times further away, so they’ll often hear things that you can’t. If fireworks are loud to you, then you can imagine how much louder they are to your furry friends. 

Fireworks Are Fearsome

As I have already mentioned, the loud sounds of fireworks, combined with unfamiliarity and unpredictability, can easily trigger a fight-or-flight response. Your dog might react by barking at it, but in most cases, it will be so terrified that it will try to run away and hide. 

Some other signs of anxiety related to the fear of fireworks and loud sounds include trembling, panting, loss of appetite, inability to relax, uncontrollable shaking, and even having accidents in the house. 

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Coping With Canine Fear

dog hides under coffee table scared from fireworksdog hides under coffee table scared from fireworks

Fireworks can be very stressful, but thankfully, there are some things that you can do to prevent the fear and ensure a calmer and more comforting experience for your beloved four-legged companion. 

  • Protect your pet even before the fireworks begin – Make sure that your dog is microchipped and wearing a collar with ID tags, and that the security information is up to date. 
  • Try to act normal – Try to act as normal as possible because dogs take a lot of cues from you and their surroundings. If you’re acting out of the ordinary, it may only increase their anxiety. 
  • Keep your dog inside – During fireworks, it is very important to keep your dogs inside the house because it decreases the chance of them running away. Also, try to mask the outside noise by keeping the windows closed and turning on the TV. 
  • Make your dog feel safe/create a safe place – This TikTok creator has come up with some great ways to keep their rescue dog feeling safe, such as creating a safe and quiet room, using a comfort blanket, giving their dog his favorite treats, and purchasing some quiet ears. 
@mykomushroom

What do you think? How do you help your pets when they’re scared? We’d do anything for him. 🥺 #rescuedog #dogsoftiktok #puppydog #fireworks

♬ Yellow – Coldplay

  • Desensitize – This is a process that you should start way before any fireworks-related holidays. It basically means that you try to get your dog used to these kinds of sounds slowly over time. For example, you can start by playing some fireworks sounds for your dog at a low level and then increasing the sound slowly over time. 

Not all dogs are scared of fireworks, but the truth is that the majority of them are. Try not to ignore it, and address your dog’s fear and anxiety before it is too late. 

Make sure your dog is safe and has a great holiday season. 

Read next: Dogs Can Be Scared Of These 10 Things And It’s Hilarious

References: 

[1] Emily J. Blackwell, John W.S. Bradshaw, Rachel A. Casey. Fear responses to noises in domestic dogs: Prevalence, risk factors and co-occurrence with other fear related behaviour.

Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 145, Issues 1–2, 2013, 15-25, ISSN 0168-1591, DOI

[2] PetAmberAlert.com. (2018, June 28). New Infographic: More Pets Are Lost on July 4th Than Any Other Day of the Year. PR Newswire.

By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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