Fireworks are a fun and exciting way to celebrate holidays like Independence Day. For dogs, though, those loud booms and flashing lights aren’t so fun.
More pets run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. So it’s critical to ensure people can identify your dog and contact you if he runs off out of fear. Getting him microchipped well in advance of such holidays is a smart decision. It’s also a good idea to attach identification tags to his collar.
Below are some reasons dogs are scared of fireworks, followed by ways you can help ease your dog’s fears and keep him calm.
4 Reasons Dogs are Scared of Fireworks
1. They’re Loud
Most fireworks make some kind of loud sound. Dogs have a more acute sense of hearing than humans, so those loud booms, crackles and whistles are alarming.
2. They’re Unpredictable
You expect fireworks on holidays like the Fourth of July, but for your dog, it’s just another day. Those firecrackers come without warning. The loud noises and flashing lights sound and look different each time. Plus, they come at different intervals, so dogs can’t get used to them.
3. They Pose a Threat
The noise and unpredictability of fireworks leads many dogs to perceive them as a threat. This triggers their fight-or-flight response. Your dog may bark at the noises or try to run away and hide. He may show other signs of anxiety, too, like restlessness, panting, pacing and whining.
4. Fireworks Make Dogs Feel Trapped
Fireworks are inescapable on holidays like Independence Day. So if the noises trigger your dog’s flight response, he will try to run from the threat. Unfortunately, there’s often nowhere to go, as you can still hear those loud booms indoors.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe & Calm During Fireworks
As you can see, dogs have good reasons to fear fireworks. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your dog feel safe and secure.
- Keep Him Inside: Even if your dog spends most of his time outdoors, bring him inside during firework displays. This will prevent him from running away when he feels scared, which can put him in danger.
- Create a Safe Space: If your dog is crate-trained, make his crate available, as that’s probably already a safe space for him. If not, put him in a bathroom or other small room with music or white noise to help drown out the boom of fireworks. Bringing his bed, blankets and toys into the room can make him feel more comfortable.
- Try a Calming Wrap: Calming wraps, vests and shirts apply light, constant pressure. Many dogs find this soothing and calming. You may find such products help in other anxiety-inducing situations, like thunderstorms.
- Desensitize: Start working with your dog far enough in advance to desensitize him to fireworks and other loud noises. You can start this process by playing fireworks sounds on a low level while playing with your dog and giving him treats. Over time, slowly increase the sound of the fireworks during these play sessions. Eventually, your dog will associate the sound of fireworks with happy and fun moments.
Not all dogs are afraid of fireworks, but it’s important to remember your dog will take cues from you. If you make a big deal out of them when he’s not scared, he may eventually develop anxiety about fireworks. So make an effort to keep your dog calm, but remember to remain calm yourself.
When you understand why dogs are scared of fireworks, you can better address your dog’s fears and help him stay calm. See our Pet Expertise page for more tips on safety, care and more.