Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks and Thunder?
Celebrating our nation's birthday is a special time of the year. Friends gather. American flags are raised. Hot dogs and burgers are on the grill. For most, it is a fun filled day of celebration with family and friends that wouldn't be complete without a display of fireworks and patriotic music. B
ut not everyone relishes this Independence Day tradition. For our four-legged friends, the 4th of July can be the most stressful day of the year. Private neighborhood celebrations celebrating birthdays, Memorial Day and other special events that use fireworks are just as troublesome for canines. Thunder, blenders, vacuums and other loud noises can have the same effect.
Why Are Dogs Afraid of Loud Noises?
It's no wonder some dogs don't care for fireworks, thunderstorms or other loud noises. These magnificent displays of light and sound are quite loud and unpredictable. A dogs' sense of hearing, both in range and frequency, is far superior than a human's.
According to Wikipedia, in humans the audible range of frequencies is between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. but a dog's range of hearing is approximately 40 Hz to 60,000 Hz. Just as the hearing ability of a human depends on its age, a dog's ability is related to its breed and age. The shape of a dog's ear and its ability to move and angle its ear can also enable it to pick up sounds faster than a human.
Dogs also like a routine. Just as humans, they feel stress when they do not know what is happening. This combined with all the loud sounds and bright lights of fireworks can freak a dog out. The National Humane Society reports that July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year as many pets become so scared they run away during fireworks celebrations and are turned into the SPCA.
Thunderstorms and lightening are also frightening for many dogs for the same reasons. Blenders, vacuum cleaners and other loud devices can scare dogs as well. Usually these noises occur in the pet's home and the noise does not last as long so the apprehension is not as great.
Behaviors of a Scared Dog
Dogs are just as different as people, but there are some common signs that many dogs exhibit when they are scared.
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive barking
- Tucked tail
- Following owner constantly
- Hiding under a bed or table
- Hiding under owner's legs
- Excessive licking or scratching
How to Help Your Dog Handle Loud Noises
If your dog is afraid of loud noises, here are some ideas to assist you in helping your dog on July 4th:
- Don't take your dog to an event with a fireworks show.
- If you can stay at home with your dog, that is best. Take your dog outside to eliminate before the start of fireworks, then return inside.
- Turn on music or TV and try to reduce the sound of fireworks.
- If you have to leave your dog, put him in his crate where he feels safe and place soft chew toys in the crate.
- Try playing with a ball or toys to distract your dog.
- Do not baby your dog or overly console him. This only teaches him that his fears are justified.
- Dogs will sense when their owners are afraid as well. Try to remain calm and confident for your dog.
- If you are outside and there are nearby fireworks noises, make sure to keep your dog on a leash and make sure his collar is not too loose. Don't leave your dog alone outside during fireworks, even in a fenced yard.
- Weeks before a fireworks event, try to desensitize your dog to loud noises.
What Noise Makes Your Dog Most Afraid?
Additional Sources of Information
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.