Fireworks and Dogs: How to Avoid Disaster

Fireworks can be lots of fun for humans, but consider what they’re like from your dog’s perspective! Many dogs are terrified or even traumatized by the sudden loud noises and bright flashes. Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe on fireworks nights.

What’s not to like?

All across the country, fireworks tend to happen regularly throughout the warmer months. They may be part of a municipal long weekend celebration, a large festival or tourist attraction, or even barbeques in nearby back yards.

Given that dogs have far more sensitive hearing than we do—four times sharper—the loud and unpredictable bangs can be more intense, and overwhelming for them. Not understanding why they are happening can also make dogs feel anxious, and trigger their fight-or-flight response.

In particular, dogs who have been brought to fireworks displays as a puppy can end up with a lifelong fear as a result. Not only do the noises hurt their sensitive ears, the crowds can be overwhelming as well. It’s best to keep them at home.

How can I help them feel safer?

Keep your dogs inside, if you can. If this is not possible, cover the crate or kennel with a blanket to offer some protection from the bright flashes and loud bangs. The cover can help give them the feeling of being secure inside a den.

Keep your dog confined and don’t let them answer the front door. A dog who is under significant stress might injure someone, or dart out through the front door and get lost.

If they don’t already have a crate or kennel in the house, create a special area for them to den for the night, and make sure you’ve introduced it to them properly, in advance.

Keep windows and curtains closed to reduce all the noises and bright flashes.

Turn on the TV, radio or exhaust fan to distract your dog and to help them relax. Classical music has been shown to be the most calming.

It may be hard, but try to stay with your pet during the majority of the fireworks display. A dog will often react differently to a bang when you are not there, showing them there’s nothing to worry about.

Make sure they are wearing their identification and that it is up-to-date, in case they get out! Unfortunately, even a well-trained dog can bolt if something scares them enough.

Most of all, do your best to behave normally. Fussing over your pup can accidentally reinforce their suspicion that there is something to be scared about.