Dogs And Fireworks

Imagine you are enjoying the New Years Eve or 4th of July celebrations with your friends, then comes the moment you have been waiting for, the fireworks. With the very first bang your dog begins to panic, bark, run around frantically and is totally uncontrollable. Dogs and fireworks just don’t mix.

Dogs fear of fireworks is a a normal and common phobia for canines. Dogs hearing is said to be up to nine times more acute than human hearing so it makes sense that they will suffer from anxiety symptoms or panic when they hear unpredictable, loud banging sounds. Even a confident dog can tremble and panic when they hear unfamiliar sounds or abrupt noises.

In this article we look at some practical solutions to manage your dog’s behavior when there are loud or abrupt sounds with the following;

  1. Fireworks and thunderstorms – What To Do.
  2. Desensitization Method – Dog training.
  3. Video with fireworks sounds.
  4. Physical products.
  5. Video of Thundershirt – anti stress coat.
  6. Other Ideas To Calm Your Dog During Fireworks.
  7. Severe fear of abrupt noise. 

Fireworks and thunderstorms – What To Do.

There are some things that you can do to help your dog be less sensitive to fireworks sounds so they can feel safer during the festivities. These fall into three main categories

  1. Desensitization Method – Dog training.
  2. Physical tools to reduce stress.
  3. Medications to calm stressed behavior.

Desensitization Method.

Below I have included a YouTube video for you to play to your dog. This type of sound can be used to help desensitize your dog.  Here are some points on how to desensitize your dog to the sound of fireworks. This can also be done with the sounds of a thunderstorm which is another time when your dog can experience high levels of stress or anxiety.

  • Play the video, or other fireworks audio to your dog on a very low volume.
  • Take note if your dog is exhibiting any anxious behavior and if they are, reduce the sound again until your dog is comfortable. Remember, dog s have acute hearing they can hear sounds that we can’t.
  • While playing the fireworks sounds incorporate a game or an activity your dog enjoys such as fetch or tug of war.
  • Be happy and calm – dogs pick up on their masters emotions and this can cause them to become frightened or anxious.
  • As your dog becomes more comfortable with the sounds of the fireworks increase the volume slightly and play it again.
  • Repeat this activity several times a day for a few days increasing the volume cautiously.

YouTube Preview Image

Disclaimer: This video is only an example and has not been proven to reduce the fear of fireworks in dogs. This video is offered to show of the types of noise you should look for and use to help your dog with fireworks sound desensitization. I would recommend using three to four different videos or audio tracks during the desensitization method.

Using a physical products.

There are some great products available that can instantly calm your dog during fireworks or thunderstorms. The best of these is the ThunderShirt. It is easy to use, practical and is very affordable.

The ThunderShirt has helped my dogs during times of unexpected noise and are equally useful during fireworks displays and thunderstorms. I love the ThunderShirt as it offers an immediate solution to a very real problem.

Take a moment to watch the video of how the ThunderShirt works for ordinary people in a number of different situations.

Learn more about Thundershirt.

Other Ideas To Calm Your Dog During Fireworks.

If there is not enough time to properly desensitize your dog from fireworks sounds, or the desensitization method has not completely ended your dog’s fear of fireworks, there are things you can do to help ease your dogs fears.

    • Stay calm and don’t change your behavior. Most people feel obligated to baby their dogs when their dog is exhibiting signs of fear or anxiety. Most people will cuddle their dog, pat them or fuss over them and instead of making your dog feel better this type of attention is actually showing reward for the fearful behavior and as a result it reinforces their fear reaction and exacerbates the problem.
    • Try to remain neutral during the fireworks and don’t act differently. If you anticipate of your dog’s reaction to fireworks in a negative way your dog will pick up on your mood and emotions. If you appear tense when you hear and see fireworks because you are worrying about your dogs’ reaction, you may make their fear worse. Be mindful of your body language, your dog needs to know that there is no reason to be afraid.
    • Put on some music or turn up the volume on the television set. This can help to drown out the sound of the fireworks. Close the windows and doors to help muffle the sound.
    • If your dog attempts to hide or find a safe place under a bed or in a cupboard don’t be tempted to interrupt their instinctual need to find a safe place. Do not try to remove them from their safe place or force them out in an effort to show them that there is nothing to worry about. A frightened dog is only one step away from fear aggression, so don’t push your dog past his comfort zone or you may get bitten or scratched out of sheer panic.
    • Speak to your veterinarian about medication options. Learn more about medications to reduce stress and anxiety in dogs at our article titled Dog Anxiety Medications.

Severe fear of abrupt noise.

If your dog has severe fear of fireworks and as a result becomes aggressive or destructive then it might be time to consult with your veterinarian. Some dogs go into panic mode and can be quite dangerous not only to themselves but to the people around them.

If your dogs fear of fireworks is severe then your vet can prescribe mild sedatives or anti anxiety medication to help your dog through the festivities. In my opinion, medication is only a good idea if all other methods have failed and your dog has the potential to be dangerous.

Once the fireworks season is over I would recommend trying the desensitization method again to help your dog get prepared for the next occasion. There are many things that cause dog anxiety and fear reactions in dogs.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to tell us what has helped your dog’s fear of fireworks. We hope you have found some helpful suggestions to help your dog with our article about Dogs And Fireworks.

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Comments

  1. Hello Dog Anxietys,

    Never thought too much about Fire Works and how Dogs are affected by them. We had a dog while living in Mackay and he used to “Sing” with the fireworks, it was so funny to watch!!

    Great tips about closing windows/doors and turning the TV up to drown out the sound.
    Cheers
    Lisa
    Lisa Wood recently posted..How To Blog For FreeMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment Lisa,

      How lovely that your dog sings with the fireworks. I would suspect that this is because your dog hears much more than human hearing and is trying to drown out the annoying sound. However, your dog is obviously feeling calm, safe and secure within your family so much so he feels free to do this.

      It might help your dog to follow the suggestions I made about allowing a safe place for your dog and shuting doors and window to help minimize the sound. Your dog will still probably “sing” but perhaps – not so loudly.

      Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Hi Bev,

    First, just wanted to congratulate you on your site, it looks fantastic!!

    My golden retriever ‘Brandi’ who is now nearly 11, is petrified of storms and fireworks, she has badly damaged both our back doors when we are not home. She pants and wimpers then scratches at the door and just wont settle, even if we let her inside. We have now found that if we go away over summer, it is best to board and barricade the doors which seems to work, or if we are home we tie her up in the shed with a long lead but out of harms way, with the light on, and eventually she seems to settle.

    It is very distressing to see your gorgeous pet overcome with fear. I am a bit reluctant to give her sedatives, so I really appreciate the helpful tips on your new site.

    Belinda
    Belinda recently posted..Wavy Clip in Hair ExtensionsMy Profile

    • Hi Belinda,

      Thanks for your comment.
      Brandi is just reacting to the unfamiliar – which is totally normal for a younger dog, but at 11, I suspect there is more to it. I would suggest the desensitization method by getting audio tracks of both fireworks sounds and storm sounds and if that doesn’t help then you could try a ThunderShirt.

      I bought one for my dog Jack about a year ago. Jack was our storm predictor – about an hour before we could hear a storm coming, Jack stared fretting, walking around and whimpering. His normal behavior involved walking to doors and windows all around the house and looking outside and whimpering – then moving to the other end of the house and copying the same behaviour, sometimes he was almost frenzied. He was basically wondering around and worrying; not sure what to do. Nothing we could do could make him feel better.

      I used desensitization methods with Jack and it worked pretty well, he no longer panics when storms hit, but was still noticeably anxious.

      When the storm was about to hit he would find his cupboard (in the laundry) and whimper and cry until the storm passed. I spent time with him, just by being in the room and telling him it was ok, but this didn’t help much.

      When he starts to fret now we just pop on his ThunderShirt and he calms straight down. It is a type of dog coat that makes them feel cuddled and secure all of the time.

      The best recommendation I can give for the ThunderShirt is that Jack actually slept through a recent storm – albeit, a small, 10 minute storm. It spoke volumes to me and it has certainly made a difference for Jack!

      You can have a look at the ThunderShirt for yourself and take advantage of the holiday specials by clicking on this blue – linked ThunderShirt word or by clicking on the ThunderShirt add on this page.

      The ThunderShirt has also helped Jack when travelling – he didn’t travel well and would make strong smells (if you know what I mean) and be close to vomiting when travelling in the car. The ThunderShirt has made a remarkable difference for Jack when travelling. Jack now just curls up on the floor of the car and goes to sleep. An absolute blessing to the rest of us – believe me!

      Best of luck with your gorgeous Brandi – I’m sure you can make the difference. Let me know how you go!

      • Hi Bev,
        I love your new site, looks great.

        As Belinda mentioned, this fear of Fireworks and Thunder, is something we have tried for some time to help Brandi overcome, but only with minor success.

        I think she does calm down a little since I started to tie her up in the shed, but it would be nice if she didn’t get affected at all. I think the desensitization methods and thunder-shirt will be our next step, we will definitely give these methods a go with Brandi, and will let you know how we go.

        Hopefully that will do the trick.

        Cheers,
        Cade ;-)
        Cade recently posted..3 Money-Time Saving Tips for Stock Trading PicksMy Profile

  3. We haven’t had problems with fireworks or thunder but I took our dog to some fireworks when he was about 12 weeks old. This was recommended at the puppy preschool we attended, it either worked or he was never going to have a problem with load noises.

    He does howl when the answering machine goes on and when my daughter plays the piano. It seems like he likes the sound of the piano as he runs from wherever he is to be near her playing! Luckily she isn’t taking lessons anymore so this only happens rarely.

    By the way I love your website.

    Cheers
    Melanie

  4. sebastiam says:

    My dog just woke me up 10 minutes ago (AGAIN) and I would like to tell you that I haven’t had a “normal” night in about 2 weeks now. Everything started like a month ago from one stupid thunder. My doggie (a 2 yo shih tzu) got extremely scared.In the beggining we didn’t know what was going on with him because we have never seen him like that before. He started to tremble and act really anxious, scratching at the door,trying to go into the laundry room. We tried to get him in bed, or to hold him in our arms but that didn’t help much. The thunderstorm stopped and my dog calmed down, but that was just the beggining. Now he gets scared every single time it starts raining or even when it’s a little cloudy outside. He also reacts when he hears fireworks. It seems that the safest spot for him is ….. the “bath tube”. He just wants to go in there every time we turn off the lights and go to sleep. I dont feel confortable letting my dog in the bath tube over night. It is 1:30 AM and as I’m writing he is underneath my desk shaking, waiting for me to see whether I’m gonna stay here or go back to bed. If I’ll go to sleep he will go and start scratching the bathroom’s door until I let him in. It really hurts me to see him suffering like that and I don’t know how to help him. Please tell me what to do. Thanks.

  5. Great post. My dogs don’t seem to mind fireworks, but they really don’t like thunder storms. They will always run for cover when they know a storm is coming. I never really thought about fireworks, but for some reason they don’t seem to bother them.

  6. Hey good post and important to realize dogs and other animals are super sensitive to everything, smells, sounds everything. Fireworks can really cause massive levels of stress to some dogs – have compassion and keep em inside!

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