How To Calm A Dog During Fireworks
Holidays that involve fireworks can be a terrifying event for our canine friends. With being unable to make sense of the loud sounds that fireworks bring, many dogs experience crippling anxiety with each pop. So how can you calm a dog that is afraid of fireworks?
In this article we will discuss the details of firework phobia in dogs, and help you develop a plan in keeping your pup calm during fireworks!
Why Is My Dog Afraid Of Fireworks?
Many people love fireworks, but most dogs do not agree. Our pups do not understand that fireworks are a symbol of celebration, meaning they are just a series of startling noises to our canine friends.
Our dogs have a more developed sense of hearing than we do as well, meaning fireworks sound even louder to them.
The loud booms and whistling of a firework celebration can cause many dogs to panic, as they often perceive them as a possible threat.
Even more terrifying to a dog is the fact that they can’t escape the loud noises, no matter where they run or hide. This can trigger your dog’s natural fight or flight response, often leading to frantic efforts to escape.
On top of fireworks being extremely loud and triggering for most dogs, their unpredictability can make them even more scary. There is not often a particular pattern with the pops of a firework, meaning your dog will never know what to expect next.
Each of these factors combined make for a terrifying experience for our beloved companions.
Is This A Normal Fear In Dogs?
Fireworks and noise phobias in general are a normal fear in dogs. Loud noises of any kind can be seen as a threat in the eyes of a dog, meaning most dogs will experience some form of unease with firework shows.
Even if a dog does not experience extreme fear when fireworks are popping, the loud bangs can be uncomfortable for their impressive canine ears.
This can lead to a fear of the discomfort fireworks bring, leading to anxiety around fireworks in general.
How To Calm A Dog During Fireworks
Sometimes fireworks are impossible to avoid during certain times of the year. Whether you live close to a firework event or your neighbors are popping them down the street, your pup may have to face their fears at some point.
To help you better support your dog throughout the next firework show, let’s list some of the best ways to calm a dog during fireworks.
Stay At Home With Them
While we know this is not always possible, the best option would be to stay home with your dog if you know they are afraid of fireworks.
Being alone can cause your dog to panic even more when the fireworks begin, especially in dogs that are extremely attached to their owners.
Staying home with your dog can allow you to comfort them through each scary noise, making the experience less stressful overall.
Play Soothing Music
Sometimes the best way to drown out the sounds of fireworks for your dog is through soothing music. Not only can soothing music help to tune out the startling bangs of fireworks, but it can also promote a calming sensation throughout your home.
Music can help to distract your dog from the firework sounds, eliminating the fear of going from complete silence to sudden popping sounds. While many dogs seem to do well with music, some even enjoy talk radio or podcasts.
Tire Them Out Beforehand
Have you ever been so tired that you slept through a loud thunderstorm without a clue? This is the same premise when attempting to tire your dog out before an evening filled with fireworks.
A tired pup is less likely to be overcome with anxiety when fireworks begin, as much of their restless energy has been expelled earlier in the day. If your pup is worn out from an active day, they may be more likely to remain calm when fireworks begin to pop.
Mentally Stimulating Toys
When a dog is afraid of fireworks, their mind is often racing throughout the experience. Their stress comes from overthinking the sounds and perceiving them as a possible threat, meaning any mental distraction can help to pull them out of this spiral.
Mentally stimulating toys can help a dog focus on the toy itself, rather than pacing around the house in effort to find the source of the loud sounds. Some of the best mentally stimulating toys include licking mats, dog puzzles filled with treats, or even kong toys filled with treats.
Long Lasting Treats
Similar to mentally stimulating toys, long lasting treats can keep your dog busy as the fireworks pop around them. Most dogs will fully immerse themselves into a yummy treat, often ignoring any distractions around them.
Not only can a long lasting treat act as a wonderful distraction to the scary outside noises, but can also help your dog associate the sound of fireworks with getting a delicious treat. Over time, your pup may not be so afraid of holidays involving fireworks.
Give Them A Safe Space
One of the reasons so many dogs are afraid of fireworks is because they cause them to feel vulnerable, often searching for a safe space to “hide”.
While your dog may not be able to completely escape the sound of the fireworks around them, offering them a safe space can help them feel more secure. A safe space may include a crate with cozy bedding, a comfy spot under the bed, or even just a small space in your home with plenty of blankets and pillows.
If your dog has an area they turn to in search of comfort, it’s best to focus on making this space especially inviting.
Close Curtains & Windows
Not only is the sound of fireworks scary for dogs, but the bright lights and flashes can be as well. Not only can curtains help to block any bright lights and flashes that make their way into the room, but it can also help to buffer any loud sounds.
Closing all windows also eliminates any opportunity for your dog to escape out of fear.
Some dogs will experience severe anxiety about fireworks no matter how prepared you are. Prescribed anxiety medications from your veterinarian can take the edge off for pups that have a hard time calming down, especially those who are known to turn to destructive behaviors and escape attempts when they are frightened.
If you think your dog will need the help of anxiety medications, we suggest speaking with your vet about their options.
How To Prepare For Fireworks With A Scared Dog
Not only is it important to comfort your dog when fireworks occur, but it’s also important to keep them safe.
More dogs are lost on the 4th of July than any other time of the year, often due to a dog’s frantic need to escape the sound of fireworks.
To help you ensure your dog’s safety during the next firework celebration, let’s list the best ways to prepare your home for a scared dog.
- Make sure all windows and doors are secure, preventing any escape attempts from your dog
- Make sure you bring your dog indoors before any fireworks begin, as dogs are known to escape from their yards when fireworks are set off
- Be sure that your dog’s tag and microchip are up to date with your current information, just in case they manage to escape from your home
- Desensitize your dog in the days leading up to the fireworks by playing firework noises in your home and observing their reaction
- Stock up on plenty of stimulating toys and treats for your canine friend if you know they may struggle with the sound of fireworks
- If you know that your dog struggles with severe noise phobias, it may be best to plan an evening at home to help your pup through their fear
- Fireworks are often set off on the day before and after the actual holiday, meaning you may want to plan to be prepared during these evenings as well
The sound of fireworks can induce fear in many of our canine companions. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can best prepare for any firework shows to come!
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! Read more about us here.