Why are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks? Some dogs seem to be affected by fireworks and others don’t – are some dogs just more relaxed than others or is there anything else going on? We thought we would have a brief look into this before Bonfire Night.
So why do fireworks affect some dogs?
Did you know that your dog has much more sensitive hearing than humans and can pick up sounds that are inaudible to us. In fact by the time a dogs hearing has developed they can hear four times the distance of a human, they can hear higher pitches and detect a frequency range of 67-45,000 Hz compared to a human range of 64-23,000 Hz. So something that sounds very loud to us might well be quite overwhelming to your dog.
Try and look at firework night from a dogs perspective, for one night of the year their mad humans decide to make awful noises and watch random flashes of bright lights. The visual and auditory sensory auditory overload must make it feel as though war has just erupted outside their house.
Also, if your dog showed their distress over the fireworks the first time they heard them then they will attach an emotional memory to this and any time they hear them again they will remember what happened before.
That said, some dogs are just not affected by fireworks (that doesn’t mean it’s ok to let them outside to watch them though) They may have learned that the noises won’t hurt them so they just won’t react to them. Perhaps this depends on what they are exposed to during their early learning stages and socialisation period.
How can you help your dog?
There are so many tips and tricks out there but here are a few:
- Set up a nice cosy bed for them, somewhere they will feel safe.
- Make sure you have taken them for a long walk before fireworks start – the more tired they are the less they are going to care about the noises outside.
- Turn on the television or radio, something that they are used to that will give them a sense of normality.
- Some vets recommend calming plug-in diffusers. If your dog suffers during this time of year it could be worth speaking to your vet for their recommendations on diffusers.
- Try not to over comfort your dog, you will only be rewarding them for their anxious behaviour and reinforcing to them that it’s ok to be anxious.
- If your dog is anything like ours then they will do anything for food. Try food toys that make them work for their treat, something that will take them a while to get the treat out and really occupy their thoughts.
These are just our thoughts about fireworks and bonfire night but if your dog is especially affected by fireworks it would be a good idea to get an appointment to see your vet before the big night!