Do fireworks scare your dog? He’s not alone. While they’re fun for humans, the loud, unexpected sounds of fireworks cause stress and anxiety for a lot of dogs. Before July 4th rolls around, here are eleven things to know about why your dog gets anxious and what you can do to help.
1. It’s normal if your dog gets scared. “While we humans have learned to expect fireworks around the Fourth of July, the sound of fireworks can be quite startling for dogs,” said Purina dog behavior scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan.
2. After all, your dog has keen senses that make fireworks a more intense experience. Your dog’s acute hearing makes him more sensitive to the sounds of fireworks than you are. “Fireworks also produce an odor that dogs may be sensitive to,” McGowan said.
3. During fireworks, your dog experiences the same kind of startled response you do when you’re surprised by a loud noise. This may mean an increase in heart rate, a rush of adrenaline, and an increase in stress hormones circulating through the body.
4. For your dog, fireworks aren’t the same experience as a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms come with a lot of warning signs, like changes in barometric pressure and high winds, so dogs anticipate them. Since fireworks are sudden and occur less frequently than thunderstorms, dogs might be more intimidated by them.
5. There are plenty of dogs who aren’t afraid of fireworks. It might be because they’re naturally easy-going, or it might be because they were exposed to enough noises when they were young that they understand that fireworks aren’t a threat.