Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?


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It’s that time of year again—and no, I’m not just talking about the inundation of stores with red, white and blue in honor of Independence Day. Social media feeds are being flooded with tips on how to keep dogs safe and secure during fireworks shows. Though the steps to safety are well-known, what’s the cause behind the behaviors themselves? And why do they agitate some pups more than others?

 

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, dogs have the ability to hear twice as many frequencies as humans and are able to pick up on noises that are roughly four times further away. With all the foreign sounds dogs hear every day, they have to determine which ones they perceive to be credible threats—reacting to everything would expend too much of their energy. As a result, louder noises are deemed more dangerous.

 

When it comes to those dogs that seem to be unphased by noises, it’s a matter of genetics and conditioning. Just like in humans, developing puppies in the womb can pick up on their mother’s stressors and anxieties. Mothers who were in strenuous circumstances or unproperly taken care of during pregnancy are likely going to produce puppies that are more anxious and scared than those that received proper care.

 

Additionally, tapping into their fight or flight instinct is a learned behavior. Let’s say a 4 month old puppy was left home alone in a crate while their owner ran errands and a thunderstorm blew through—the puppy is now going to associate loud noises with abandonment and loneliness, giving them bigger reactions in similar situations.

 

Being that this fear grows worse with age—as older dogs who are less able feel a more instinctive need to protect themselves—ensuring the right products are on hand to comfort these animals is vital.

 

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