Why do fireworks scare dogs?
Fireworks can be frightening to dogs because of the loud bangs, the flashing lights and unpleasant strong smell of spent explosives. With multiple bangs occurring from numerous displays, dogs will rarely be able to pinpoint where the booming explosions are coming from. Not knowing what an explosion is, where it’s coming from, or where and when the next one is going to must be truly terrifying for some dogs.
Are fireworks too loud for dogs?
Dogs are renowned for having an incredible sense of smell, but their hearing is remarkable too. Dogs can hear sounds that are four times further away than we can, and they can also detect significantly higher frequencies. A dog’s acute sense of hearing means that loud noises that are tolerable to us might be uncomfortable and unpleasant to them.
Can dogs be traumatized by fireworks?
It’s natural for a dog to be wary of loud noises, particularly if they don’t know what the noise is, or where it’s coming from. Evolution has hard-wired dogs with incredible survival instincts, and loud unexpected noises can trigger a fight-or-flight response. Your dog’s reaction to loud noises is largely determined by their personality and past experiences. If your dog was scared by fireworks once, then chances are, they will remember it and be scared again.
Are some dogs more scared of fireworks than others?
Noise aversion can be influenced, to some degree, by breed, age and sex. Even the way your dog reacts to loud sounds could be partly controlled by their genetics, with research showing that German Shepherd Dogs are more likely to pace when stressed, while Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs are more likely to hide.
Check your microchipping details
Early October is a particularly good time of year to make sure that your dog's microchip details are up to date and that they are wearing a collar and ID tag. If you think there's going to be fireworks going off near you, and you know your microchip details are not up to date, it’s important to get them corrected as soon as possible.
Dogs can react very badly to the unfamiliar sights and sounds of fireworks. It can never be stressed enough how important it is to make sure your details are kept up to date. It’s far too common that microchips have incorrect owner details, meaning that if a pet goes missing many dogs may not be able to be returned to their owners.
Research fireworks displays near you
Check where and when fireworks displays are being held in your local area, so that you know when to expect fireworks. Also ask your neighbours to let you know if they are planning any unofficial displays of their own to help you prepare.
In the weeks or even months leading up to 'fireworks season' you can help your dog become used to loud noises by acclimatising them to the sound of fireworks. There are many noise CDs on the market and plenty of downloadable content.
Warning: If your pet is severely noise phobic, sound CDs or playlists may make the situation worse, and it may be a good idea to speak to an experienced animal behaviourist.
Before the fireworks begin - helping your dog cope
Can dogs go to fireworks displays?
Never take your dog to a firework display, even if your dog does not bark or whimper, don’t assume they're happy. Excessive yawning and panting can indicate that your dog is stressed
Also, never tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off.