Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks? How Can You Help Them?

| Updated: July 12, 2023
dog afraid of fireworks

If you’re like me, you love fireworks. They’re colorful, exciting, and festive. But if you’re also like me, you know a dog or have a dog who hates fireworks. They’re loud, scary, and stressful. You can see your pup shaking, panting, barking, or hiding under the bed. You feel sorry for them, and you wish you could make them feel better.

In this article, I’ll explain why your dog is scared of fireworks and what you can do to help them. I’ll also share some of the best products and methods to calm your dog down and reduce their stress. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to say, “I know my dog,” and “I know how to help them.”

What’s Up with Your Dog’s Fear of Fireworks?

Before we get into the solutions, let’s understand the problem. Why are dogs scared of fireworks? What makes them freak out so much?

The answer lies in their ears and their brains. Dogs have way better hearing than us, meaning they can hear sounds we can’t. They can also hear much louder and higher-pitched sounds than we can. This means that fireworks are not only loud but also painful and confusing for them.

Dogs also have different brains than us, which affect how they process sounds. Dogs have a part of their brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for emotions and survival instincts. When dogs hear a loud sound, their amygdala triggers a fight-or-flight response, which makes them feel anxious, scared, or angry. They may also associate the sound with a perceived threat, such as a predator or an intruder.

Another factor that influences your dog’s fear of fireworks is their personality and past experiences. Some dogs are naturally more fearful or anxious than others due to their genetics or temperament. Some dogs may have had a bad experience with fireworks or loud noises in the past, which makes them more likely to develop a phobia. Some dogs may not have been exposed to fireworks or loud noises when they were puppies, which makes them less able to cope with them later in life.

How to Help Your Dog Overcome Their Fear of Fireworks

Now that you know what’s up with your dog’s fear of fireworks let’s see what you can do to help them. There are two main approaches: prevention and treatment. Prevention means avoiding or reducing your dog’s exposure to fireworks or loud noises. Treatment means calming your dog down and making them feel safe during a firework event.

Prevention Tips

The best way to prevent your dog from developing a fear of fireworks is to expose them to loud noises when they’re young. This is called desensitization or habituation, and it involves gradually introducing your dog to different sounds and rewarding them for staying calm. Ideally, you should start this process when your dog is between 8 and 16 weeks old, as this is when they’re most open to new experiences.

You can use a CD or an app that plays the sounds of fireworks, thunderstorms, gunshots, sirens, or other loud noises. Start by playing the sounds at a low volume for a short time, and give your dog treats or praise for being relaxed. Slowly increase the volume and time over time until your dog can handle the sounds without showing any signs of fear or stress.

You can also take your dog to places where they can hear loud noises in real life, such as parks, festivals, or sporting events. Make sure you keep your dog on a leash and under control at all times and reward them for being calm and confident. If your dog shows any signs of fear or anxiety, move away from the noise source and comfort them.

Another way to prevent your dog from developing a fear of fireworks is to teach them relaxation training. This is a technique that involves teaching your dog to associate a word or a gesture with a relaxed state of mind. For example, you can say “relax” or touch your dog’s ear while they’re lying down and calm. Repeat this several times a day until your dog learns to relax on command.

You can use relaxation training to help your dog cope with stressful situations, such as fireworks or loud noises. Before the event, practice relaxation training with your dog in a quiet and comfortable place. Use the word or gesture during the event to help your dog calm down and focus on you.

Treatment Tips

If your dog already has a fear of fireworks or loud noises, you can still help them overcome it with some treatment tips. These tips are meant to help your dog feel safe and comfortable during a firework event and to reduce their anxiety and stress.

One of the most important things you can do is to create a safe space for your dog. This is a place where your dog can go and hide when they’re scared or stressed, such as a crate, a bed, a closet, or a bathroom. Make sure the safe space is cozy and familiar with your dog’s favorite toys, blankets, or treats. You can also play some soothing music or white noise to drown out the sound of fireworks.

Another thing you can do is to keep your dog company and comfort them. Don’t leave your dog alone during a firework event, as this can make them feel more anxious and abandoned. Stay with your dog and talk to them in a calm and reassuring voice. You can also pet, cuddle, or play with them to distract them from the noise. However, don’t force your dog to interact with you if they prefer to be alone in their safe space.

You can also try some products that can help your dog feel more relaxed and calm. These include pheromone diffusers, collars, or sprays that mimic dogs’ natural calming signals. They can help your dog feel more secure and less stressed. You can also try some herbal products, such as chamomile, lavender, or valerian, that have soothing effects on dogs. However, always check with your vet before giving your dog any supplements or medications.

In some cases, your dog may need prescription medications to help them cope with their fear of fireworks or loud noises. These are usually anti-anxiety drugs that reduce the activity of the amygdala and lower the stress hormones in your dog’s body. They can help your dog feel more relaxed and less reactive to the noise. However, these drugs should only be used under the supervision of your vet, as they may have side effects or interactions with other medications.

Final Thoughts

Fireworks are fun for us, but not for dogs. Many dogs are scared of fireworks because they have better ears and different brains than us. They perceive fireworks as a loud, painful, and threatening sound that triggers their survival instincts.

Fortunately, there are ways to help your dog overcome their fear of fireworks or loud noises. You can prevent it by exposing them to loud noises when they’re young and teaching them relaxation training. You can also treat it by creating a safe space for them, comforting them, and using some products or medications that can calm them down.

By following these tips, you can make the Fourth of July or any other firework event more enjoyable for both you and your dog. You can also strengthen your bond with your dog and show them you care about their feelings.

Shayna Easton Author Image
Shayna Easton
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