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Dogs and Fireworks: Not A Good Combination

A dog’s hearing is 10 times more sensitive than a human’s; therefore the loud, unpredictable bangs are cause for a very fearful, stressful reaction. Unfortunately, you cannot reason with them that the event will be over in a short while.

Dogs and fireworks just don't mix.

As Americans celebrate the birthday of our great nation this weekend with grand fireworks displays, most of our dog friends don’t think that this type of celebration is much fun at all. The array of pops, crackles and booms could create a major panic attack in some pets. Celebrations go on for days and, from the dog’s perspective, it is a never-ending experience, filled with stress.

Although sound sensitivity is a common phobia, watching your dog go through the anxiety is no fun.

So, just what is the problem and why do most dogs have such an aversion to the loud noises of fireworks?

A dog’s hearing is 10 times more sensitive than a human’s; therefore the loud, unpredictable bangs are cause for a very fearful, stressful reaction. Unfortunately, you cannot reason with them that the event will be over in a short while.

Symptoms of a stressed dog:

  • Eyes wide
  • Salivation
  • Frantic movement
  • Whining
  • Barking excessively
  • Pacing
  • Hiding in places they don’t normally go
  • Trembling, shaking
  • Cannot relax

There are a few things you can do to help with safety and provide as much comfort as possible to your canine companion:

  • Do not take your dog to a fireworks display.
  • Keep your dog inside. In a high panic situation, your dog could have the potential to bolt anywhere for safety and it may result in running into the road or somewhere where they may never be found again. Dogs will even dig under fences or jump through closed screens and windows to try to get away from the terrifying noise.
  • The basement of your home can provide a safe haven as the noises won't be so loud there.
  • Some dogs are sensitive to the flashing light, so be aware of your dog’s light sensitivities and keep it to a minimum — close the shades.
  • Crating can create a safe environment for those accustomed to being crated.
  • Try distracting with their most sought after prize — their favorite treat!
  • Make sure they have up-to-date ID information. The Fourth of July holiday has the highest rate of pet recovery activity.
  • When the dog shows signs of fear, we cannot help but want to shower with more cuddling, petting and soothing. Believe it or not this actually reinforces the dog’s fear. They’re thinking, “There must be a reason to be afraid…..” 
  • Consider taking the dog to a friend’s house that will be noise free of fireworks.
  • Use Rescue Remedy, which assists in calming naturally.
  • Use a Thundershirt,  which provides gentle pressure that calms the nervous system.
  • Use a pheromone based product that  assists the dog in stressful situations.

In the future, keep these tips in mind to prepare your dog (or new puppy) for fireworks:

  • During the critical impressionable stage (3-5 months), try introducing different noises that the dog will experience through life, including different loud sounds.
  • Several days or weeks before the fireworks display, desensitize your dog to the noise by getting a fireworks recording (video or audio) and play periodically, starting out with low volume and gradually increasing. Reward with treats and/or soft praise.

Please have a safe, enjoyable holiday!

Carol Hudak July 01, 2012 at 08:45 PM
It's deja vu all over again. Just last night, the same neighbors had the same obnoxious fireworks about 3 feet from our border. Nice people, but not a neighborly thing to do, in my humble opinion. The smoke from the fireworks was all over my yard, and again, my little dog was terrified. Are fireworks even legal? They are loud, leave a dirty residue and frighten animals. What is the point?? BTW, I held my dog throughout this unnecessary noise, spoke to him and he calmed down. He's the best little buddy there is. If his presence can comfort me, why shouldn't my presence comfort him?
Glen K Dunbar July 01, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I have NO intention or attending any boring fire works display unless I am dragged there. In which case I will complain the whole time. I will be glad to stay home w/my Dogs and cuddle them\ GLEN
Billy Gumdrop July 02, 2012 at 03:06 AM
My dogs and I are staying inside with the windows shut and the stereo on. They are much more important than seeing fireworks. I've seen fireworks a million times.
Frederick Klein July 02, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I'm with you, Billy. I'm staying in with the dog. I won't even take him out while people are driving like lunatics trying to get to the fireworks (they zip around my block) nor afterwards when the streets are littered (every year).
John C July 19, 2012 at 07:57 PM
why dont you get rid of the rat and get a real dog

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