Whether it’s Independence Day, New Year’s Eve, or another celebration, many dog owners face the same struggle: how to help calm their pups when dealing with fireworks. It’s no secret that dogs have sensitive hearing, but how sensitive is it? What is it about fireworks that scares pups so much? Read on to find out and learn how to help ease your pup’s anxiety and reactions to fireworks.
Much of this advice may apply to your cat, who can also get frightened by fireworks.
Understanding Dogs’ Fear of Fireworks
Dogs possess remarkable hearing abilities, surpassing humans in multiple ways. With extra-sensitive ear organs and 18 muscles dedicated to ear movement, dogs can perceive and isolate a wide range of sounds from various directions.
Compared to humans’ limited hearing range, dogs can detect roughly twice as many sound wave frequencies and hear sounds up to four times farther away. The fireworks that sound distant to us sound much louder to the pups.
It isn’t just the loudness of the fireworks either. The suddenness of fireworks can frighten the pups too. Unable to understand the purpose of fireworks and that they pose no threat, dogs can experience fear and anxiety when exposed to these explosive displays, even when they’re indoors.
These combinations of sensory input paired with centuries of evolving to survive in the wild, a dog’s fight-or-flight response could be easily triggered.
Common Reactions of Dogs to Fireworks
When exposed to loud noises like fireworks, dogs can show a variety of reactions. They might bark, run away, hide, pace, whine, or seek extra comfort and attention from their owners. This is all normal behavior for many dogs, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be helped.
Preparing Ahead of Time
It might seem obvious — but don’t bring your dog to events that will have fireworks. Even if dogs are allowed, it’s introducing unnecessary stress to your dog, and if your dog does get startled, and can break free, it might run away.
Even if you stay home with your dog, make sure that you’ve done everything you can so that if somehow your dog does run away, you can be quickly reunited. Make sure that your dog is registered. That will make it easier for anyone who finds your dog to get in touch with you. Learn all about registering your dog in Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas.
Learn about other products, besides registration, that can help you track down your dog. This article on how to find a lost dog includes information on some of these products, as well as 10 things to do right away if your dog gets lost.
Preventing Dogs’ Fear of Fireworks
Looking for quick ways to help keep your pups at ease during the Fourth of July? These three options are just a few ways you can make adjustments to your space and approach when attempting to calm down your pet.
Create a Safe Space
Creating a Safe Space — If possible, set up the safe space in a quiet area away from windows so the sound is muffled by walls. Options like large closets (with the door open for a sense of freedom), basements, or interior rooms are ideal.
If your dog feels comfortable and safe in a crate, now is a great time to use it. Enhance their space with their favorite toys, treats, and cozy bedding such as blankets or pillows.
Additionally, playing calming sounds like white noise, calming TV, YouTube, or radio channels, or specially curated classical music like Through a Dog’s Ear can help soothe your dog’s anxiety and drown out the loud explosives.
Engaging activities such as chew toys, puzzle toys, or complicated snacks they need to work for, such as filling a Kong with tasty wet food and then freezing it, are great ways to keep your dog preoccupied while the fireworks pass.
Interacting with your dog by talking, petting, or gently playing with them is also a great way to bring their focus elsewhere.
Products such as ThunderShirts are great at applying researched methods to calm your pets. ThunderShirts, which many vets recommend, work by applying even gentle pressure to your dog, almost like a hug or a weighted blanket.
ThunderWorks also has other products like calming chews, pheromones, and oils that utilize dog-safe ingredients like melatonin, chamomile, or hemp that have naturally calming effects. These products don’t require a prescription, and they come highly recommended by vets and pet owners alike.
- HELPING MILLIONS OF DOGS: With over an 80% success rate, ThunderShirt is recommended by thousands of vets, trainers, and pet owners alike. Combine use with our effective ThunderEase for double the calming power.
- ORIGINAL DOG CALMING WRAP: The patented ThunderShirt design applies gentle, constant pressure to calm anxiety, fear, and over excitement due to a variety of environmental triggers.
- DRUG-FREE CALMING: Effectively eases anxieties during fireworks, thunder, separation, travel, vet visits, and much more with no training and no medication, so your beloved pet receives naturally soothing relief. Great for rescue dogs!
Training Techniques for Dogs
In the days leading up to the Fourth of July celebrations, it might be worth trying a bit of exposure therapy with your pups. Multiple training sources recommend playing videos of fireworks on a low volume for your pets and slowly increasing the volume over the course of the next few days.
This will normalize the sound for your dogs, and though a YouTube video can’t capture the full experience of hearing fireworks, it can do wonders to prepare your pup for the real deal. If this is an option you’d like to pursue, it’s recommended you start as soon as possible since celebrations tend to start early.
Medical Interventions for Dogs
For those who need a little extra help, consider reaching out to your veterinarian and see if you can get a prescription medication to treat your pup’s anxiety. Depending on your dog’s individual health and levels of anxiety, your vet will prescribe the medication that will best suit them.
When you get the medication, be sure to follow the instructions, and it’s also recommended that you give the medication a trial run with your pup before the anxiety-triggering events (fireworks) start.
Close monitoring will be necessary during this trial, but once you’ve done it you now have a baseline for how your pet reacts on that medication, and you will know if any changes need to be made.