Does your pet go nuts at the sound of crackling sparklers and fireworks booms? They’re not alone. More than any other time, the Fourth of July is the number one day for dogs to run away from home. Why? Because they’re scared of fireworks. Here’s why they are afraid and how you can comfort them next year.
Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks?
For you, fireworks can be a great way to celebrate a holiday or big event. For Fido, it can be a traumatic experience. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Fireworks are loud.
Compared to humans, dogs have a more acute sense of hearing. Fireworks are loud and a bit alarming for us. Now, imagine if your sense of sound was intensified. Scary, no? Dogs experience fireworks at a louder, more intense volume—so those booms, snaps, whistles, and pops are terrifying and instill a sense of fear in your best friend.
2. Fireworks are unexpected.
Dogs also don’t understand why fireworks happen. For one second, they are sitting alongside their best buddy and chowing down on a leftover hot dog from the grill. Suddenly, they’re thrust into a war zone. Lights are flashing, sirens are wailing, and guns are booming…or so they might think. For dogs, fireworks are unexpected and this only adds to the fear factor.
3. Fireworks sound threatening.
Fireworks are loud, alarming, and totally unexpected for pets—and this can trigger a fight-or-flight response. Panic ensues because they feel threatened. Anxiety, restlessness, and pacing, and whining are also a common response. They’re trying to get away from the noise and panic when they find out there is nowhere to run.
How to Comfort Your Dog During and After Fireworks
During and after a firework show, your dog might be a panicked mess. Here are a few of the best ways to comfort them.
1. Keep Them Indoors
The best thing you can do for your dog during fireworks is to keep them indoors. If you can avoid taking your dog to an outdoor firework show, that’s ideal. Staying indoors allows them a barrier between their sensitive ears and the fireworks.
2. Wrap Them Up
Much like the fetal position can be comforting for humans, wrapping up your pet can make them feel safer. If your dog has experienced firework-induced anxiety, wrap them up in a blanket or a tight hug.
3. Desensitize Them Early
Pro-tip for next year: take steps to desensitize your pets before a major firework display. Play firework sounds inside the house. Train your dog to stay calm during loud noises. Eventually, your pet may get used to the noises and disassociate the booms from fear.
4. Create a Safe Space
Whether this is the first time your dog has experienced fireworks or they’re a seasoned verteran, you’ll want to provide them a safe space. Add blankets to their crate to reduce sound or put them in a room with little to no windows. Anything you can do to separate them from the noise, the better.
Driving your Subaru to see fireworks? Pad the crate in the backseat or trunk to give them a safe space away from the noise—just don’t leave Fido in a hot car unattended!
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