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05 Jul, 2021
8 minutes

Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks?

At Chorlton Fireworks we’re passionate about pyrotechnics, and there aren’t many people that don’t enjoy a thrilling firework show. But fireworks aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you have super hearing powers and don’t necessarily know what a firework is, it can be a scary experience. Many dog owners will be familiar with the strange and distressing behaviour associated with pets and fireworks.

Dogs are known to run and hide, whine, bark, howl, scratch things, run away, and even injure themselves during a firework display. It’s upsetting to see your canine friend acting this way, but this is completely normal for the way your dog is perceiving a firework. Dogs and fireworks don’t mix, so what exactly is the problem? And how can we help dogs with fireworks and reassure them of their safety?

Why are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?

If you’ve just observed your dog acting strangely after a neighbour put on a display, or even if you’ve heard fireworks in the distance you might be wondering why do dogs hate fireworks so much? The question shouldn’t be some much ‘why don’t dogs like fireworks?’ rather, ‘why do fireworks scare dogs’.

It’s no secret that the hearing powers of a dog top that of a human. Dogs hear double the number of frequencies we do and can hear sounds up to four times the distance that we can. Think about what you can hear now and imagine doubling that- it would be a much more busy soundscape than we normally live by. Dogs have such sensitive hearing that their brains actually determine which sounds are more important than others and ‘switch off’ to certain sounds to help them focus.

That said, a sense of hearing was developed in part to help all animals detect danger and act accordingly. Running away from loud noises is a natural response if you’ve never heard it before and don’t know where it’s coming from. So, seeing dogs scared of fireworks running and hiding, although upsetting, is definitely a normal response.

Another reason you might find your dog scared of fireworks is to do with its age. As dogs get older, they lose their ability to hear higher frequencies. This is stressful because it diminishes their ability to determine where a sound is coming from. As humans, we can watch fireworks knowing they’re not going to come towards us or explode dangerously close. But all a dog will know is that loud bangs are coming from all around them, and they have no way of knowing where the next one will be and if it’ll endanger them.

Finally, there is the psychology of conditioning and sound association. In its early years, a puppy will go through development that will influence its personality and behaviour in later life. Your dog may have developed early personality traits that even you, as its owner, are not aware of. If you have a new dog, the combination of fireworks and dogs might be very unpredictable the first few times. For example, if a puppy was exposed to loud bangs such as those from DIY work, or a noisy road when it was being weaned off its mother, it could easily associate these noises with insecurity.

Or worse, if yours is a rescue dog it could have been exposed to loud violent noises in its previous home that were associated with fear, resulting in a dog terrified of fireworks. If you decide to adopt a rescue dog it’s important to enquire about such anxieties with the shelter so you can be prepared and support your new pet.

Fireworks Dogs Find Less Stressful

Before preparing to support your dog through a firework display you might want to think about the fireworks being used. If you are in control of the firework display you could consider using some low noise fireworks that would produce a less dramatic noise. Find out about what to expect from low noise or silent fireworks in advance to help you choose the right ones.

Ocean of Lights fountain

Some of the best dog fireworks are those that don’t involve the signature ‘bang’ of a traditional rocket firework, instead offering a more gentle fizzing or whooshing noise. Consider adding some Catherine Wheels, sparkers, or fountains to your display to minimise noise and give your dog a break. Fireworks and pets might not go together naturally but you can make the experience more tolerable for them with special, quieter dogs fireworks.

How to calm your dog during fireworks

Many loving dog owners will take to the internet looking for dog afraid of fireworks remedy ideas to help their pets through difficult times. Events like Firework Night, Diwali, and New Year’s Eve can be heard no matter where you live, as fireworks are inevitable. Unfortunately, there’s no way to eliminate the stress of fireworks entirely without getting rid of the actual fireworks, but there are some methods on how to calm dogs during fireworks displays. Here are the four best things you can do to help your dog handle a firework display.

  • The first thing you should do when considering how to help dogs with fireworks is to make sure they are secured inside your home. Walk your dog during daylight hours and then keep them inside with windows and doors fully closed when fireworks are due to go off. This will ensure they’ve had some exercise and expended some energy, helping to reduce energy levels later on. Before fireworks start ensure your dog is inside and can’t get out. Not only will this reduce the noise of the fireworks for them but it’ll stop them from doing something erratic and dangerous, like running away.
  • Keep curtains shut inside the house to decrease the dramatic flashes of light that your dog might see. Don’t confine your dog to one room though. This could be more stressful for them if they wish to move to a different place in the house. They could even hurt themself trying to escape from the room. Allow your dog free roam of the house if you can so they can choose a place to hide if they want to.
  • Spend time with your dog while some of the fireworks are going off. Act calmly and happily and play with your dog or pet them. If they can observe you acting normally despite the sounds of the fireworks this might help them to associate the noise with something familiar and safe.
  • Distraction is a good technique when thinking of how to calm dog during fireworks. Put the TV or radio on in a part of the house that your dog will spend time in during the firework display. This provides a kind of ‘white noise’ that will help to blend the startling ‘bang’ of each firework into the general noise. Make sure there are quieter rooms available in the house for your dog to go to as well. It’s also a good idea to provide your dog with a chewy treat. Chewing or gnawing on something can provide a dog with stress relief and distraction.
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