Why Does My Dog Bark at Fireworks? 9 Reasons and How to Stop It
Summer is a time of fun in the sun, late-night walks on the beach, and evening BBQs on the back deck. One of the most anticipated times of year for most of us is July 4th. The holiday is full of food, fun, activities, and of course, the fireworks show after the sun descends.
However, while it might be a wonderful, beautiful time for us, it’s not so wonderful for our canine pals. Many dogs bark at the fireworks from the time they begin until the time the show ends, and as a pet parent, the behavior can drive you insane.
With spring flowers in bloom and summer right around the corner, you might be wondering why your dog barks at the fireworks every year and what you can do to stop this behavior in your canine pal.
Lucky for you, we have nine reasons in this list and a few hints on how to stop the behavior as well.
The 9 Main Reasons Why Your Dog Barks at Fireworks
Fireworks are loud, make booming noises, and light up the sky completely. Since your dog doesn’t know what the sound is, they’re probably afraid and unsure of what to do. While this is a possible reason for your dog to bark at the fireworks, there are a few signs you can watch for to be sure, including:
- Flattened ears
- Licking their lips
- Hiding their tail
If you notice any of these signs during the fireworks show, then it could be that your dog is afraid and needs to be comforted.
2. Noise Phobias
It’s possible that your pup has a noise phobia. Most noise phobias originate when a dog is just a puppy and has a traumatic experience with some kind of noise. Often, it’s fireworks that the puppy was scared by, to begin with.
Since the dog developed a noise phobia of fireworks as a puppy, they hate everything to do with them as an adult dog.
If you have a dog that was a service dog in the past, then they might have PTSD, which could be why they’re afraid of the loud noise of the fireworks. If they were a military service dog, it is highly possible that they suffered trauma from bombs or other things that happened during conflict.
However, if you are going to adopt a dog with PTSD, the owner or shelter should let you know ahead of time so that you can be prepared and able to help your pet as much as possible.
4. Coping Mechanism
Barking could also be the way your dog copes with the anxiety he’s feeling. For example, loud noises often trigger a dog to bark because loud sounds are the thing they fear the most.
You might be thinking, why doesn’t the dog bark at the loud sounds on the TV? The reason for this is that the sounds on the TV are predictable, and your dog knows where the sounds are coming from.
Your dog can’t see the fireworks as they come at different times and are super loud, causing their anxiety levels to soar and the barking to begin.
5. Fight or Flight Response
As with humans, the moment your canine hears a loud bang, their flight or fight response can kick in. In other words, their instinct for survival is strong, and they’re issuing a warning by barking.
Is there an enemy to fight? Should the dog look for a means of escape?
These are the thoughts that will run through your dog’s mind when they hear an ear-splitting series of bangs coming from outside the property.
In fact, according to statistics, more dogs disappear on the 4th of July than at any other time of year. This is thought to be because their flight response kicks in when the fireworks start, and they escape from their homes and go on the run.
In many cases, your pooch is probably barking to alert you that something is going on outside. In fact, this is the most common reason for a dog to bark at fireworks. Your dog feels the need to protect you and your family, so they’re being cautious, and wants you to be cautious as well.
It’s not like they can open the door and go check outside to see what’s making the noise, so their constant barking is a warning that you need to check it out instead.
7. Aggression Trigger
Least common but still a possible cause is that the fireworks trigger your dog’s aggression tendencies. It’s possible that your dog is choosing the fight part of the fight or flight response.
They’re not afraid of the fireworks but ready to take on that loud sound. However, this is where you need to be careful. If your pooch is barking and growling, trying to calm them or move them to a different space might increase their aggression.
It’s best to give them some space, as they may lash out at you and nip or bite you as a result.
8. Loud Noises Are Painful
As a pet parent, you already know that your dog can hear things that you can’t. However, this also means that their ears are much more sensitive than ours. The plain fact is that the loud boom of the fireworks may be hurting your dog’s ears, causing them to bark to try to make it stop.
Dogs can hear at least four times better than we can, so if the fireworks are loud to you, try to imagine how loud those explosions are to your furry friend.
The final reason on our list for why your dog might bark at fireworks is that it has never really been exposed to fireworks before, especially if it’s a puppy. It’s also possible that they’ve never been exposed to any super loud noises.
For example, hunting dogs are used to the sound of loud guns, so hearing fireworks doesn’t phase them. However, your sweet, furry friend isn’t a hunting dog, so the loud noise terrifies them, of course.
How to Stop Your Dog from Barking at Fireworks
Now that you know some of the reasons dogs bark at fireworks, we’ll talk about how to put a possible halt to the behavior.
1. Keep Your Dog Indoors
To reduce the risk of your dog barking, it’s best to keep them indoors during the fireworks show. Don’t take them outside to see the fireworks, as it will trigger the barking and possible aggression.
Keep your pet inside and close the curtains to keep any bright light from getting inside. Put your pet in a room that is the furthest away from the fireworks. For example, if you have a basement, put the dog in there so that the sound and sights are muffled.
2. Desensitize Your Dog
One other way to stop your dog from barking at fireworks is to desensitize your dog to the loud sound. Start by slowly getting your dog used to the sounds before July 4th and on New Year’s Eve.
For example, a few months before these holidays, get a recording of fireworks and let the dog listen to it. Of course, you want to do this slowly and never force your pet to listen to the sounds if they panic, but this can help them become used to the sound before the actual event takes place.
3. Stay Calm
All pet parents know how frustrating it is for a dog to start barking and not stop, especially when there’s nothing you can do to halt the event that’s causing the problem.
It’s essential, however, for you to stay calm. Don’t get mad at your dog. Don’t yell at your dog. Instead, talk calmly to your dog and try to soothe them. Yelling or raising your voice will only make the dog more stressed out, and it’s possible they could think you’re yelling because you’re afraid too, which will only make things worse.
4. Stay with Your Pet
Most of all, your dog is scared and needs you to stay with them during this time. Never just lock your pet in a room and go on with your day. Try to calm them and assure them everything is going to be fine for the best results.
These are just a few of the ways that you can help your dog to be calm and happy during the annual fireworks. Remember, your dog isn’t barking to be mean or to be aggravating; it just doesn’t understand what’s going on.
This concludes our list of the nine reasons your dog might bark at fireworks and how to prevent this behavior from happening. Be patient with your dog and try to get to the bottom of why they are barking at the loud noises and lights, then go from there to find a solution.
Soon, hopefully, your pet will enjoy the fireworks show on the holidays as much as you do.
Featured Image Credit: nck_gsl, Pixabay