A large grassy area filled with people, exciting sounds, and tantalizing barbecue smells would be a dream come true for some dogs. However, other dogs may fear the crowds and unknown noises, or it may all be fun and games until it gets dark, and the first pop of a firework sends them into a panic.
Why do some dogs like loud festivities like public celebrations and fireworks while others cower in a corner? The exact reason depends on the individual dog, but we’ll look at six likely reasons why your canine may not be a fan of your Fourth of July fun.
Why Does My Dog Bark at Fireworks – 6 Likely Reasons
1. Fear of the Unknown
3. Bright Flashes of Light
4. The Smell
5. Loud Noises
What Can I Do to Make My Dog Less Afraid?
It’s easier to coax a new puppy into enjoying the fireworks than an older dog with years of firework trauma. Regardless of their age or experience, you should never force your dog into coming to the firework show. Doing so may result in them bolting off in a flight response, or even worse, biting a nearby spectator in a fight response.
Here are some tips if you want to try to take your dog to the show:
1. Invest in some ear protection.
Something like the Calming Cap by Happy Hoodie wraps around their ears and head, reducing noise and making them feel swaddled. It can also be useful for ear protection from the cold during winter.
2. Desensitize their response.
See how they react by playing firework noises at a low volume on your TV or phone before the show. If your pet is reacting from fear, they might be more comfortable with the fireworks if they’re relatively familiar with the sound and there are no unpleasant associations.
3. Come early
Let your dog settle down and become comfortable with the crowds before the fireworks go off. You might be able to tell by their reaction to all the noise if they’re going to be a good candidate to watch the show or if you should leave early just in case.
4. Sit far away from where the fireworks will be launched.
Try to figure out where the fireworks will be shot and sit far away. Avoid sitting beside buildings that might echo and amplify the sound. You might even want to watch from your car if possible so you can leave in case your dog isn’t as big of a fireworks fan as you’d hoped.
5. If your dog does freak out, speak to them in a calm, reassuring voice.
Never scold your dog for being afraid. If they’re barking, it’s because the fireworks are unfamiliar, or they are scared. Yelling at them will make their response worse and might reinforce their need to be anxious.
What to Do If the Fireworks Are Near Your Home
You know your dog better than anybody and sometimes fireworks just aren’t for them. That’s okay. If you think your dog will panic, bolt, or become aggressive as a result of the fireworks, please leave them at home for their well-being. For a dog who’s extremely anxious about fireworks or loud noises even at home, you may have to:
1. Find a dark, quiet place away from windows.
Make your pet comfortable in a part of your house where they can rest and feel safe. You can even play white noise on a sound machine if it would help block out other sounds. If possible, your dog’s safe place should be away from windows where they might detect the sudden flashes of light.
2. Put them in a Thundershirt.
The Thundershirt is a tight-fitting vest that may help ease your dog’s anxiety by making them feel like they are wrapped in a warm hug. If your dog is also scared of thunderstorms, this may be a worthwhile investment you can use throughout the year.
3. If possible, stay home or find someone to sit with them.
We understand your human family may need you at the festivities, but leaving your scared pet alone in the dark while fireworks are going off may intensify their response next year. Try to find a sitter if you must go out during fireworks.
Whether your dog will be joining you for the Fourth of July picnic and fireworks, or they need to stay behind, making the right decision for your dog will make them feel safe and loved. Never force your dog into a situation where they might react out of fight-or-flight. July 4th is statistically the worst day of the year for losing your dog, and it’s estimated 1 in 5 canines run away each year because they were spooked by fireworks. Knowing ahead of time how your pup responds to different stimuli will help you make the most appropriate decision for their safety.
Featured Image Credit: salsa, Pixabay