The Big Bang

It is estimated that 42% of dogs do not like the sound of fireworks. When experiencing the loud bangs and strange noises emitted by 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.

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.

Some dogs do not respond badly to the noises from fireworks, this could be because they are generally easy going, or have been exposed to enough noise when they were young that they do not get startled as easily or find them a threat.

If you start early enough you can help your dog become less sensitive to loud unexpected noises. If you expose your dog to loud sounds, fizzes, horns or fireworks from an early age, increasing the volume gradually, then they are more likely to be unfazed by noises in later life.

So what do we do with rescue dogs that we adopt, that already have this fear? It’s the same principle, but this is not a short term fix and will take time.

The idea is to desensitise your dog to the sound that they fear. Play the feared noise very quietly while you and your dog go about your usual activities. Very slowly, proceeding only when your dog is showing no fear or reaction at all, increase the volume of the noise. The key is slowly and to only progress when your dog is ready. Go too fast and you will reverse all your dogs progress.

As you work over a number of weeks, and gradually increasing the volume of the sound, your dog should grow accustomed to it and eventually, even on the required volume, should be able to accept that sound and not feel fear.

Dogs Trust have teamed up with vets to help with this and you can get free downloads from the site.

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