Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks and Thunder?

Updated on July 5, 2016
Fireworks at the 4th of July show in Cederburg, WI
Fireworks at the 4th of July show in Cederburg, WI | Source
Loud Noises Can Scare Dogs
Loud Noises Can Scare Dogs | Source

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.

Scared Dog Hiding Under Table
Scared Dog Hiding Under Table | Source

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?

See results

Additional Sources of Information

ASPCA http://www.aspca.org/

The Humane Society of the United States http://www.humanesociety.org/

Petfinder http://www.petfinder.com/index.html

America's National Lost & Found Pet Database

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        sheree 5 months ago

        my dog is petrified of fireworks and has not been out to urinate for two days really worried about her

      • profile image

        ShamontielLVaughn 4 years ago

        What's interesting is I had a German Shepherd for 9.5 years who rarely seemed phased by fireworks or lightning and thunder. She'd hear it and go about her business but would bark until no end if a fly hit the sidewalk. She was temperamental but I loved that dog. But my 13-year-old Labrador Retriever/German Shepherd before her was terrified of storms. Thing is he was pretty cool about the weather until we had a really bad tornado one year. I was at daycamp and my parents were at work. We were locked into the daycamp building and I kept screaming about how my dog was outside. As soon as that tornado passed, I bolted out of that building and took off like Flo-Jo all the way home. He was hiding underneath the porch and I hugged him immediately. Your advice about not babying a dog? Whatever! I did. :-) And I'm still proud of it. I felt bad for him.

        Then another time we had a thunderstorm. I came home and he was TERRIFIED. There was at least three feet of water. He couldn't go downstairs. He was just stuck. After those two times, he would just claw at the door any time thunder or lightning was heard because he thought that was the norm for rain. I felt bad for him. We did kinda have to reel it in because he started milking it for all it was worth and wanted to come upstairs all the time (and go through the garbage cans and knock things down), but I still sympathize with the hearing of dogs. I read a book about wolves being born deaf and blind and all of a sudden their hearing and sight going into focus times 10. It's wild to hear nothing and all of a sudden hear everything.

        Anyway, I enjoyed this entry. I fully understand why you have a score of 100. I wanted to check around to see what the top-ranked writers were writing, their writing style, etc.

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

        Hi, I just published a Hub (it shows above as a related Hub) about my Schnauzer who is deathly afraid of fireworks. I have tried everything, but nothing helps her.

        You did a great job on this Hub.

      • LauraGSpeaks profile image

        LauraGSpeaks 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

        Aww, poor Tiffany! Its amazing the amount of damage a dog can do when it feels stressed. I guess its just like people--adrenaline kicks in and our bodies tells us to get out of a frightening situation. I am hoping Tiffany didn't run away too far and you were able to find her easily.

      • badegg profile image

        Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

        I had just come in from repairing the outdoor kennel that my dog, Tiffany, had just damaged to get out of because of an approaching storm. Nothing else in the world bothers her except thunder. This last 4th was not a problem, but the ensuing T-Storm was a disaster!

      • mecheshier profile image

        mecheshier 5 years ago

        You bet. A great Hub!

      • LauraGSpeaks profile image

        LauraGSpeaks 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

        Mecheshier, you are right. Along with dogs, many small children are also afraid of fireworks. Thanks for reading.

      • chrissieklinger profile image

        chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        My dog is afraid of thunderstorms and I am so glad we do not live near a fireworks display!

      • mecheshier profile image

        mecheshier 5 years ago

        Great Hub. I was just talking to a friend about this. So many people take their dogs to fireworks. Not a good idea. Likewise, small children (toddlers/infants) have sensitive hearing as well.

        Thank you for a fabulous Hub. Voted up for useful.