A Dog & Fear Of Fireworks

A Dog & Fear Of Fireworks


Reacting to Fireworks and Noises


Guy Fawkes night, new year and other occasions means fireworks will occur.  Fireworks can be as loud as a jet plane. Even worse for a dog with sensitive hearing.This can be a distressing time for many dogs and owners. Your dog may feel vulnerable and trapped unable to predict when the next scary noise occurs. Your dog may exhibit one, or more behaviours. For example; Vocalise, shake, hide, whimper, salivate, become apprehensive and extra alert, be destructive, anxiety, exhibit repetitive behaviour, seek extra owner attention, pant more, pacing, escape, aggressive moments, or over grooming that relates to the firework event. 

Experiences in early life often influence the dogs responses to loud noises and fireworks. Yet only 33% of owners sought help if their dog was fearful of noises. Dog and owners lives could be enhanced, if help and support for behaviour modification is sought. E Bakewell el at (2013).

A study in Bristol university has looked at a dogs fearful responses to noises. Half the owners in the study stated their dog exhibited at least one fear behaviour when it heard a loud noise. However only 25 % of these owners in the survey stated in the questionnaire that their dog reacted to loud noises.

The most commonly reported fear reaction was to gunshots, fireworks or thunder. These dogs often generalised in reacting to loud noises. The study also found that it was more common for a dog that reacted also to milder things, like TV, or traffic noise, to additionally have other fears or anxieties too. E Bakewell el at (2013).


Veterinarian Help


Your vet should check to see if there is a medical reason associated to the fear of noises. Your vet will diagnose the medical reason. A study found that in some dogs the reaction is related to pain. Ana Luisa Lopes Fagundes el at (2018). If your vet believes that your dogs reaction towards fireworks, or thunder etc. is extreme, your vet will decide, if ,or what clinical choices are appropriate, for your dog to help it cope, adjunct to the behaviour modification.

A study was done on dogs that show acute fear, or anxiety towards fireworks. The study compared the use of a veterinary medication gel, to dogs receiving a placebo ( a gel with no medication). To make the test unbiased, neither the vet, or owners knew which dose ,the dog was on. Significantly more of the dogs that were given the gel were reacting less fearfully or anxiously Korpivaara el at (2017).


Help for Dogs scared of Fireworks and Noises


  • Start behaviour modification for fear of fireworks, or noises early, months/weeks before you expect fireworks. Your dog needs time, to learn to be less reactive to the noises and sound of the fireworks. 
  • Your dog cannot learn to not react, just a few days before the fireworks begin.
  • Don’t punish your dog for being scared and don’t reassure your scared dog, both will make it worse. 
  • Vet medical assessment.
  • Avoid pulling your dog out if s/he is hiding.

Canine Whispers is here to help your dog to become more relaxed about the noises, with a dog behaviour modification plan tailored to your dog as an individual. Each dog is assessed as an individual, to help and support you make a difference, to your dogs fear of noises, fireworks etc.

references; Ana Luisa Lopes Fagundes el at (2018) Dogs with noise sensitivity should routinely be assessed for pain by vets. Science daily and Frontiers in Verteinary science. Available from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180320100719.htm. Accessed 10/8/18.

E Bakewell el at (2013 ) Fear responses in Domestic dogs; Prevalence fear and concurrence with fear related behaviour. Published in applied animal behaviour science. Available from https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/publications/fear-responses-to-noises-in-domestic-dogs-prevalence-risk-factors. Accessed 10/8/18.

Korpivaara el at (2017) Dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel for noise-associated acute anxiety and fear in dogs—a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. The Veterinary record. Accessed 10/8 18. Available from https://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/180/14/356