Dog Scared of Fireworks? How to Calm a Dog Down
Fourth of July is right around the corner, and for many pet parents, that means dealing with a dog scared of fireworks. This issue is a common struggle for many families and their furry members. It’s not unusual for a dog to behave erratically when the fireworks start on this national holiday. And even more concerning, more frightened dogs trying to escape the noise go missing during July 4th fireworks than at any other time of the year.
If you’re wondering how to calm a dog down during the Fourth of July festivities, it’s important to understand why dogs are scared of fireworks and what signals they’ll give to let you know that they are afraid. Once you know the reasons for your dog’s fear and how they demonstrate it, you can implement our tips for how to calm a dog down during these events.
Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?
If your dog is extremely frightened during a fireworks show, you might be asking, “Why are dogs scared of fireworks?” Understanding the reasons for your dog’s behavior can help you be empathetic and understanding of their plight, and therefore more helpful when these scary situations come along.
Dogs are scared of fireworks because:
- Fireworks are loud
- Fireworks are unpredictable
- Fireworks feel like a threat
Fireworks Are Loud
Perhaps the main reason why dogs are scared of fireworks is obvious: they’re loud! Your dog has super-sensitive hearing, and their ears find the bang of fireworks unpleasant and startling because of the volume. Even if you’re far away from where the fireworks are being set off, your pet’s sensitive ears will register the sound and be afraid.
Fireworks Are Unpredictable
Unlike thunderstorms, the sound of fireworks is isolated, with no other signals to let a dog know the sound is coming. Dogs experience other warning signs for thunderstorms, like barometric pressure changes, but fireworks are completely random and out of the blue.
If fireworks happened rhythmically and predictably, they might be a little less disturbing for your dog, or your pet might adjust to the regular noise. Because fireworks don’t have a clear pattern, your dog is constantly in a state of alert during a fireworks show.
Fireworks Feel Threatening to Your Dog
Dogs can’t understand that the fireworks can’t and won’t hurt them. They only hear an extremely loud, surprising noise, which is often perceived as a threat or a precursor to a threat. Your dog has evolved to sense and identify threats in the wild in order to survive, so these instincts kick in when they hear an invisible and very loud noise like fireworks.
Signs You Have a Dog Scared of Fireworks
A dog scared of fireworks will communicate their fear with some very obvious behaviors, such as:
- Trying to hide or escape
- Panting and lip-licking
- Pinning back their ears or tucking their tail between their legs
If your dog shows any of these signs during a fireworks display, you will need to use our tips on how to calm a dog down.
Vocalizing: Whining, Growling, or Barking
Just like people, dogs can verbalize their fear with sounds like whining, growling, or barking. While it might be tempting for some pet parents to tell Fido to shush when he’s being noisy, you shouldn’t chastise a dog scared of fireworks. They are communicating their feelings with you, and when you know how they feel, you can make them more comfortable, so their vocalizations should be acknowledged with compassion.
Trembling or Shaking
Dogs also have physical signs beyond their vocalizations when they are scared of fireworks. Many will visibly shake or tremble during a fireworks show. You may also notice your dog pressing up close to you and feel their shaking and trembling. This is an uncontrollable physical reaction to their fear of the fireworks.
Hiding or Trying to Escape
It’s not uncommon for dogs to hide under furniture or even try to escape the house or yard when they feel the immense fear that often accompanies fireworks. You might catch your dog trying to bolt out the door during a fireworks show or, alternatively, they might be difficult to find because they are cowering under the bed or hiding in a closet.
Licking Lips or Panting
Another sign of fear in dogs is lip-licking and panting. If your dog is breathing rapidly through their mouth or repeatedly wetting their lips, they might be communicating their fear of the fireworks. This habit can be somewhat annoying, like many other restless behaviors initiated by fear, so it’s important to be super patient with your pet when they are experiencing the fear of a fireworks show.
Pinned-Back Ears or Tail Between Legs
Other common physical signs in a dog scared of fireworks are pinned-back ears and tucking their tail between their legs. Both of these are signs that your dog is feeling threatened and unsafe. Both of these physical movements are primal instincts – if your dog feels threatened, they pin back their ears to protect them from the threat and they use their tail to cover their more vulnerable parts.
Tips to Calm Your Dog During Fireworks
If you have a dog scared of fireworks, there is a lot you can do to make your pooch more comfortable and avoid the risks that come with your pet’s fear during this holiday. If you’re wondering how to calm a dog down during the Fourth of July celebrations, here are some tips for how to manage dogs and fireworks:
- Create a secure environment
- Reduce the noise with insulation and distracting sounds
- Ensure your pet’s safety with proper identification
- Wear your dog out with exercise before the fireworks
- Consider adding CBD to your dog’s wellness routine for calming support
Create a Secure Environment
Because escaping is one way your pet will respond to their fear of fireworks, it’s important to make sure their environment – indoor and outdoor – is secure. This might mean locking the doggie door during a fireworks show and keeping all the household doors closed. Keeping your dog inside is safest, but be sure to check the outdoor fence for holes or missing posts where your dog could squeeze through and run away if they get out of the house.
If you have visitors during the holiday, be sure to let them know that your dog is afraid of fireworks and might try to escape. Everyone should be vigilant about keeping the pooch secure, so you don’t have to spend the holiday looking for them.
Try to Reduce the Noise
If inside, try to reduce the noise of the fireworks by offering distracting sounds like the television, radio, or white noise machine. You might also consider staying with your dog in an interior room in the house that is more insulated from outdoor sounds. Close curtains and windows to muffle the sound of fireworks.
Creating a doggie safe space in your home is a wonderful way to help support your dog during fireworks shows. This space should include all of your dog’s comfort items and be well-insulated from exterior noise. It can help to hang thick fabric on the walls and fill the space with pillows and blankets. The more fabric there is to absorb the noise of the fireworks, the less jarring they’ll be for your pet.
Make Sure You Can Find Your Pet If They Escape
Be sure your pet’s tags are up to date with your correct information so they can be returned home if they do somehow escape. Your pet’s collar or harness should be properly fitted so you know it won’t come loose if it gets stuck on something, such as a fence that your dog is trying to dig under.
You should also be sure your pet is microchipped (and your current contact information is up to date with the registry) since collars can be lost as they escape during fireworks. While collars and ID tags can get lost or come loose, a microchip is a reliable way for you to be reunited with your pet if they are found in another part of town.
Be Calm and Patient, But Not Doting
Don’t scold your dogs for their fearful behavior. Remain calm and be patient and kind with them, but don’t give them too much extra attention during fireworks. This might be difficult – when our canine companions act afraid, all we want to do is snuggle and comfort them – but too much attention can make them feel even more nervous because they sense that you’re mirroring their stress.
Your dog will look to your behavior for security, so ignore the fireworks. Offer to play with them – tug of war or fetch – but don’t force them to engage if they don’t want to. It’s sort of like when a child falls at the playground – if you gasp, they’re more likely to start crying. Instead, play it cool, and your dog will appreciate your groundedness.
Get Plenty of Exercise Before the Fireworks
Obviously, don’t save your walk for the evening time when fireworks are more likely to be set off. Instead, plan some very engaging exercise activities for your dog on the Fourth of July – maybe a long visit to the dog park or a big hike. Getting plenty of exercise during the day will make them tired and more likely to relax during the fireworks at night.
Consider the Calming Wellness Support of CBD for Dogs
Calming CBD oil for dogs can be a very useful wellness support tool to help your pet maintain their relaxation during fireworks. As part of a well-balanced daily routine, CBD for dogs can make it easier for your pet to hold on to their normal level of calm and avoid being triggered by the firework noise. You can also consider cheering up your pet with a CBD calming chew for dogs – nothing like a soft, turkey-flavored treat with the powerful properties of CBD to get that tail wagging!
How to Help a Dog Scared of Fireworks
Your job as a pet parent is to support and help if you have a dog scared of fireworks. While you might not be able to assuage their fear entirely, you can make their experience during a firework show more pleasant if you know how to calm a dog down. Because you understand that your dog perceives the loud, unpredictable sounds as a threat, you can support them with a safe environment, plenty of exercise, patience, and the calming support of CBD for dogs.
Dog Scared Of Fireworks? Be Ready for the Fourth of July!
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