A Pet Parent’s Guide to Dogs and Fireworks

While some people may love the loud explosions and colorful crackle of fireworks, many of our furry four-legged friends don’t. Firework anxiety is a common issue for dogs, causing anything from mild annoyance to serious distress.

No pet parent wants to see their best friend suffer. The good news is that there are ways that you can support your dog during these trying times. Keep reading to learn more about why dogs struggle with fireworks and what you can do to help.

Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?

Anything from Fourth of July fireworks to a few firecrackers can cause panic depending on your dog. There are a few notable reasons why fireworks are more likely to scare your canine companion.

  • Dogs have outstanding hearing. Dogs have a hearing range roughly three to four times greater than people, which makes fireworks particularly loud for our furry friends.
  • Dogs act out due to survival instincts. Fight-or-flight is a natural response for a lot of animals, and dogs are no exception. If your dog feels trapped by ongoing fireworks, they may try to run away, bark, or act out in response to the perceived threat.

Are Some Dogs More Scared of Fireworks than Others?

According to a study shared in Psychology Today, 83% of dogs show signs of fear in response to fireworks. However, that same study found that certain factors may make some dogs more likely to be afraid than others.


After surveying nearly 4,000 pet parents, researchers found that dogs are more likely to be afraid of loud noises as they get older. The study found that dogs that feared noises like fireworks were 4.2 years old on average, while those who weren’t scared were an average of 2.1 years old.

The main explanation for this age gap is simple – a dog’s hearing typically isn’t as good when they get older. Over time, it can be harder for dogs to detect where higher frequency sounds come from, which makes those unexpected booms particularly unnerving for your furry four-legged friend.


It turns out that some dog breeds are better at dealing with fireworks than others. According to research, there are 12 different breeds that were “significantly less likely to show fear responses to noise.”

According to researchers, these breeds share a couple of common traits that they believe make these types of dogs less fearful of loud noises. The main theory is that dogs traditionally bred for hunting are less sensitive to loud noises like gun shots. Other breeds, such as German Shepherds and Alaskan Malamutes, have traditionally held jobs that require them to be more alert and are less startled by surprises.

Signs That Your Dog is Dealing with Firework Anxiety

While some types of dogs are typically more scared of loud noises and flashes, there’s always a chance that fireworks will make your dog anxious. There are a variety of behaviors that can indicate that your dog isn’t a fan of all the explosions in the sky. These signs include:

  • Increased alertness
  • Pacing or general restlessness
  • Flattened ears
  • Trembling
  • Extreme barking, howling, and whining
  • Excessive panting and licking
  • Whale eyes (when your dog shows the whites of their eyes)
  • Attempts to hide or run away

How to Calm a Dog During Fireworks

Fortunately, there are different steps that you can take to prepare for fireworks and calm your dog when they are afraid. Here are some ways that you can help your dog feel more at ease if fireworks bother them.

  • Stay calm. Dogs often look to their loved ones for support. If you seem nervous about those mysterious explosions in the sky, your dog will likely pick up on that energy. Don’t overreact to the fireworks and be that calm presence your dog needs.
  • Give them attention. A great way to take your dog’s mind off something scary is to make them feel loved. Reassure them with some comforting words to help them know it’s okay. You can also try some cuddles if your dog doesn’t mind snuggling while they’re anxious.
  • Use redirection. Diverting your dog’s attention away from what scares them can help calm them down. Try using a favorite toy or a dog treat they love to get them to focus on happy thoughts instead of the fireworks.
  • Get some exercise ahead of time. If it’s the Fourth of July or some other event where you expect fireworks, plan some activities earlier in the day. Getting plenty of exercise can help your dog use up some of that extra energy they may use to zoom around the house when they’re scared.
  • Give them a hiding space. Some dogs do a lot better if they have a spot where they can stay when they hear fireworks. The spot can differ depending on your dog. Crate training is a great option for a lot of dogs, but a quiet room with curtains or even your bed can help keep the sights and sounds of fireworks at bay.
  • Mask the sound of fireworks. The less your dog can hear fireworks, the better. Keep your windows closed and play some white noise or soothing music to drown out as much of the noise as possible.
  • Try anxiety vests or wraps. These garments apply gentle pressure to a dog’s body to help stimulate the sensation of swaddling or hugging. These wraps can provide an extra sense of security during scary situations, although some dogs don’t like wearing clothes or like that pressure. If you try these wraps, just make sure to have your dog practice with them first before any fireworks.
  • Talk to a veterinarian. If your dog is struggling with fireworks, you may want to talk to an expert. A veterinarian can help you determine different ways to help your dog deal with firework anxiety and whether medication could potentially help your furry friend.

Pet parents should also know that the anxiety caused by fireworks can last long after the final blast. Dogs can be stressed out for up to 12 hours after fireworks end, and other loud noises or flashes can cause additional panic as they try and calm down.

How to Prepare for Escape Attempts During Fireworks

Unfortunately, fireworks are so scary for some dogs that they run away from home. More dogs go missing around the Fourth of July than any other time of the year, which means that it’s essential to take a few measures to keep your best friend from escaping in panic.

  • Stay inside or use a leash. It’s a lot easier for your dog to run away when they’re outside. Avoid going for a walk during prime firework time if possible and keep your dog on a leash if you need to take them out for any reason.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone. Being at home with your dog can both help your dog stay calm and allow you to address any escape attempts. If you can’t be at home for fireworks, make sure you have a family member, friend, or a dog sitter stay with your best friend.
  • Check every door and window. All it takes is an open window or a loose screen for your dog to run away. Make sure to check that any possible exit point is secure so that they stay safe at home.
  • Update any ID tags, microchips, and photos. It’s best to have precautions in place in case our dog does run away. Check any ID information to make sure it’s up to date (and consider getting them if you don’t already have them).

Want to learn more about how you can help keep your furry friend happy throughout the year? Sign Up for the Best Friends Club for more educational articles, special tips, and members-only discounts on Bil-Jac treats and other products.

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