Summer is a great time for dogs, except for those days and nights when fireworks ring through the air. The loud booms and bright flashes fireworks produce are often alarming and terrifying to dogs, potentially even putting their safety at risk.
Especially during the week of the 4th of July, fireworks are inescapable. What you may consider to be a fun celebration is one of your dog’s least favorite nights of the year. More dogs run away on the 4th than any other day in the year.
The good news is there are steps you can take to ease your dog’s nerves and keep them happy and safe. Read on to learn why dogs are afraid of fireworks, telltale signs a dog is scared, and what you can do to help keep yours as calm as possible.
Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks?
Many dogs are afraid of fireworks – and rightly so. They don’t know where the noise is coming from, it’s loud, they don’t know when the next bang will happen…it’s fear of the unknown, and it can cause your pup to become extremely distressed and anxious.
Dogs experience fireworks much differently than they do other natural loud noises like thunder. Your canine pal at least knows when thunderstorms are imminent because they can sense the dropping barometric pressure and static electricity in the air. Fireworks, however, come without any warning, and are closer to the ground and more vibrant than thunder. Not to mention the fact they’re also accompanied by a distinct burning smell.
If you’ve always thought your dog has superpowers, you’re not wrong. Dogs can hear sound four times the distance of humans and at a much higher frequency. Humans aren’t able to hear anything above 23,000 Hertz, while dogs can hear noises up to 45,000 Hertz. Fireworks may sound jarring or even annoying to you, but they can sound like a massive and very scary explosion to your pup.
The part of the brain that controls smell is also 40 times larger in dogs than humans. Dogs can have as many as 300 million scent receptors depending on breed, compared to a human’s measly five million. So…it’s safe to say the smell associated with fireworks is much more intense to your dog than it is to you.
Fireworks are a sensory overload for dogs, and the unfamiliarity and unpredictability of it all freaks them out.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Scared of Fireworks
Common signs of stress in dogs during fireworks include shaking, trembling, pacing, panting, whimpering, hiding, and excessive barking. Every dog is different though, and some may express their fear in ways that aren’t listed here. That’s why it’s always important to know all of the potential signs of stress.
Dogs can become so frightened by fireworks that, in extreme cases, they try to escape and run away from home. This is their flight-or-fight response kicking into high gear. They perceive the unpredictable booming sounds fireworks as a threat that they need to get away from, fast. Most dogs who run away are found lost and confused the next day, and, as a result, July 5th is typically the busiest day of the year at animal shelters.
Tips to Calm Your Dog From Fireworks
As your dog’s human, the best thing you can do is prepare in advance. Having some strategies and solutions ready before the craziness starts will benefit both of you.
- Keep your dog away from fireworks. Do not bring your dog to fireworks shows or leave them outside during fireworks. Even confident pups can get spooked by fireworks.
- Walk during the day. There’s no way of knowing for sure when your neighbor or a nearby business will start shooting off fireworks, but odds are lower when the sun is still out. Giving your dog ample exercise will also help tucker them out and relax before nighttime comes around. Keep your dog on a leash at all times when you’re outside, especially the week of the 4th, as an unexpected firework may cause them to bolt.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped and wearing an ID, so that if they do manage to escape, you’ll have the greatest chance of finding and bringing them back home. It will hopefully never, ever get to that point, but it’s always best to be prepared.
- Create a safe space. Place your pup’s bed, blankets, and favorite toys in a closet or small room to help make them feel comfortable and distanced from the perceived threat. A safe space is key if your dog will be left alone during fireworks. Ideally this space doesn’t have any windows or exterior walls, so your dog can’t see the flashes of light or feel the vibrations. Close the curtains if you don’t have a suitable room option without windows.
- Drown out the noise. Play some tunes for your dog to help limit their exposure to the booming sounds. Studies have shown that music has a calming effect on dogs, particularly soft rock and reggae. Turn fans on at the loudest setting or up the volume of the TV as alternatives to or in conjunction with music.
- Be patient, and refrain from scolding your dog. We get it; when you want to be enjoying yourself but you’re worried about your dog shaking or whimpering under the table, it’s a lot to handle at once...and can be frustrating. But, as we always emphasize here at Kradle, your dog plays off your emotions, and if they sense that you’re upset, it will only make them more upset too.
- Try Kradle. Our calming products are formulated to naturally promote stress-relief in dogs and create happier homes for families with pets. Every product leverages our revolutionary patent-pending BotaniTek™ formulation, which combines the purest American-grown hemp with other tested and proven calming ingredients like Ashwagandha & L-Theanine. We offer a variety of calming options to meet different needs for any dog and any anxious moment. All are easy for you to use, and even easier for your furry family member to love. In case you missed it, our 4th of July Calming Bundle is also back in stock for a limited time only! This bundle contains a mix of daily and fast-acting solutions to prepare your dog in the days leading up to the holiday and the night of.