Most dogs are seemingly absolutely fearless. They will chase down cars, defend you against the scary postman, and stand up to bigger dogs at the park if they feel they have to. So why is it something as fun and festive as fireworks leave so many of them nothing more than trembling messes?
Dogs are mainly afraid of fireworks as they are particularly sensitive to loud noises. The snaps and bangs involved during a fireworks display could trigger your dog’s instincts or past trauma resulting in their fearful response.
In the sections to come, you will learn everything you need to know about why dogs are scared of fireworks and the underlying factors that make some more scared than others. Most importantly, you will learn the most important tips and tricks to help your dog feel more comfortable and actually enjoy fireworks with the rest of the family.
Why Are Fireworks So Scary For Dogs?
The reason why dogs may react so badly to fireworks is sensory overstimulation. The beautiful colors and loud noises that make fireworks specials are exactly what make them extra scary for dogs.
Here is a bit more on the two main reasons why your dogs may dislike fireworks.
Dogs generally have very heightened senses, from their impressive sense of smell to their great eye-sight. Their hearing is just as impressive, with dogs being estimated to be able to hear sounds in distances that are up to four times further than what humans can pick up on.
Dogs’ increased sensitivity to sound could therefore make fireworks a lot more uncomfortably intense than they are for humans, making it a generally unpleasant experience.
For some dogs, the scary part of fireworks is the sound and the visual aspect. This is rare, but there are dogs that get confused and frightened by all the random colors and shapes formed by fireworks up in the sky.
Why Are Some Dogs More Scared Of Fireworks Than Others?
Dogs react differently to fireworks both due to nature and nurture. This means that your dog’s reaction to fireworks is partly imprinted into their breed genetics and partly determined by their past.
Here is a bit more on these factors that make some dogs more likely to react negatively to fireworks than others.
History Of Trauma
Dogs can suffer post-traumatic stress disorder just like humans can. This may be triggered by traumatic events at any stage in their life. However, dogs that went through verbal or physical abuse during their puppy age are more likely to be affected.
In such cases, the sudden noises and flashes of color during fireworks displays cause the dog stress and results in a negative response.
Some dogs find fireworks scary simply because they generally have timid personalities. This is particularly common among small dog breeds but could also happen with large dog breeds, such as Mastiffs and Great Danes.
Such dogs are typically affected by the sudden loud sounds more than anything and will typically react by hiding.
On the other hand, dogs that have vigilant personalities may also find fireworks scary. This is common with dogs that have herding or hunting backgrounds.
The sudden loud sounds and bright colors will overstimulate and confuse the curious dogs and may end up scaring the pooch.
How Can You Help Your Dog Stop Being Scared Of Fireworks?
The fear of fireworks can be greatly debilitating for dogs. It is also much harder to deal with as time passes which is why it is best to address the phobia as soon as possible.
To help you out, here are a few strategies you could try to calm your dog down and get them to stop being scared of fireworks altogether.
Avoid Exposing Your Dog To Firework Displays
This is especially important when you first notice that your dog is sensitive to loud sounds. This could be anything from traffic to thunderstorms.
Once you have picked up on this general phobia towards loud noises, it is best to avoid exposing your dog to fireworks as you find ways to deal with the issue.
This is because fireworks are typically louder and flashier and will traumatize the dog further, thus making the fear of loud noises harder to deal with.
This may seem contradictory to our first point, but you could also stop your dog’s fear of fireworks by exposing them to the fireworks. This is what is known as systematic desensitization.
This is a strategy where dogs can be slowly exposed to what they are scared of in a controlled environment. In this case, you could play them some videos of fireworks displays on television starting from low volumes and gradually increasing the volume.
While this may be an effective strategy against your dog’s fear of fireworks, it is important to consult a vet or animal behavioral expert to ensure that you do it right and avoid further trauma.
Give Your Dog A Safe Space Within The Home
If your dog is freaking out due to some fireworks in your neighborhood and you need a quick fix to calm them down before you address the phobia, your best step is to get them a safe space within the house.
This could be anything from a covered dog crate to setting up their doggy bed in the quietest and most neutral part of the home.
This gives your dog a place to run to where they feel safe and can calm down before the fireworks display ends.
Address Underlying Psychological Issues
Your dog’s fear of fireworks and other loud sounds could be a manifestation of underlying psychological issues. These include post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety, general anxiety, or even depression.
Addressing these issues with the help of your vet will help make your dog feel safer and more confident. This will make it easier to deal with their fear of fireworks.
Try Calming Dog Treats
Finally, you could try using calming dog treats to help calm your dog down when they are having a tantrum over fireworks. These could also help put an end to the phobia in the long run.
These treats are usually infused with natural, calming ingredients like hemp extracts and melatonin. They could also include essential oil extracts with calming effects, in which case lavender and chamomile are the most commonly used.
Just make sure to consult your dog before starting your dog on any of these calming treats. They may also be able to recommend the best brand to go with for better results as you deal with the issue of your dog’s phobia of fireworks.