If there is something that especially terrifies dogs are loud and sudden noises, as is the case of firecrackers, fireworks or thunderstorms. In a country like ours where any party or sporting success is celebrated with pyrotechnics, it is difficult to avoid these episodes of enormous stress for the dog, which can end up in really dangerous situations. That is why, from our Las Almenas dog blog, today we want to give you 5 tips for dogs afraid of firecrackers.
Why are dogs afraid of firecrackers?
Firecracker phobia is a much more common fear than it seems. In fact, several studies affirm that more than half of the dogs respond in an exaggerated, irrational and uncontrolled way to this type of noises.
There are many theories that explain why so many dogs are afraid of firecrackers:
- On the one hand, there is the sharpness of their senses, especially their hearing, which is much more developed than that of men. This makes them more sensitive and makes them perceive noises more intensely.
- Dogs’ sense of smell is also more developed than that of people. For this reason, the smell of gunpowder, in principle unknown to the dog, can have an even greater influence on his anxiety because he finds himself in such a strange situation to which he is not accustomed.
- Another explanation for the fact that so many dogs are afraid of firecrackers may lie in a natural, ancestral reaction to seek shelter from storms.
- Finally, there is yet another theory that explains that some dogs afraid of firecrackers have learned this behavior from their owners. In many cases, owners become very nervous about thunderstorms or fireworks and this encourages the dog to also feel an irrational fear when hearing these noises.
How to detect dogs afraid of firecrackers?
As a consequence of this fear and dread, the behavior of dogs is suddenly altered, even with a single exposure to this type of stimuli. To learn how to handle these situations, you should know how dogs with fear of firecrackers respond:
- The dog will try to escape the sound and vibrations as best he can. He will run and look for a place to hide and, if it is not possible to do so, he may become totally paralyzed.
- Dogs that are afraid of firecrackers tend to cower, hide their tails between their legs and lower their ears.
- It is not surprising that dogs with fear of firecrackers tremble, whimper, cry, howl, and thus show a very altered behavior.
- It is also possible that they have tachycardia, hypersalivation or pupil dilation.
- In the most extreme cases, dogs afraid of firecrackers may even have an accident or suffer cardiac arrest. It is possible that, in an uncontrolled flight, they may get lost or cross a road causing an accident.
5 tips for dogs afraid of firecrackers
Would you like to eliminate your dog’s fear of firecrackers? It is not a good thing to see our dogs suffer because of fireworks. So, if your dog has a phobia of fireworks, party rockets or thunderstorms, take note of these recommendations to try to alleviate the stress he may suffer:
1-First and foremost, stay calm
If your dog sees you getting nervous or behaving differently than usual, the animal will become alert and will notice that this is an unusual situation. If, in addition, you scold him because he tries to run away or get under the table, you will be promoting the idea that something is going on and he will associate the noise with negative experiences.
In addition to calming yourself, you can also try to calm the dog down. To do so, you can offer him a snack or toy that he can chew on to calm his anxiety.
Another interesting option is that, knowing at what time the pyrotechnics may start, you should try to go for a walk and play before so that your furry friend is relaxed and exhausted. This way, when you get home, he will be more tired and will lower his guard against the noises.
In case you are not able to calm him down and you foresee an event or party with a lot of pyrotechnics around, you can consult with your veterinarian the option of providing him with a tranquilizer or dog painkillers.
2-Let him hide
Most dogs with a fear of firecrackers respond by seeking a safe haven at home. If he wants to crawl under the bed or table or any other hiding place, you should let him, as he may feel comfortable and protected there. Try to respect his space and do not force him out of his hiding place.
3-Disguise the noises
If a storm comes or fireworks start and you are caught at home, it may be a good idea to close the doors and windows to try to minimize the noise. You can also try to mask the din by turning on the television, which is a sound he is used to, or even classical music, as it can help him calm down.
4-Coompany, but don’t overprotect
You have to treat the situation as normal. Everything is important: not only the way you act, but also your movements, gestures and the tone of your voice. Talk to him and treat him as you usually do, trying to normalize the situation.
If you pet him to try to comfort him when he shows his fear, it can be counterproductive. Petting acts as a behavior reinforcer, so it is best to reserve petting and rewards for when he is calm.
It is about being with him and accompanying him, but do not overprotect him because otherwise he may think it is a dangerous situation and cause the opposite effect, putting him on alert.
5-Keep the dog under control
A last tip, which is also very important, is the fact of keeping the animal under control at all times to prevent it from running away or escaping from home. Make sure that windows and balconies are tightly closed and that there is nothing that could pose a danger to the dog’s nervous state.
If you are caught in the street, try to stay calm and keep your furry friend securely leashed and close to you. Keep in mind that if he escapes he could cause an accident or get lost. In the latter case, having him with an identifying microchip will make it easier to locate him.
Can you prevent dogs from being afraid of pyrotechnics or thunderstorms?
Did you know that this phobia of firecrackers can be prevented? It turns out that there is something we can do and it is really effective. It is the socialization of the dog from the time he is a puppy.
That is why at Las Almenas we try to socialize our puppies from the first weeks of life. The socialization of the dog allows him to learn to relate with other people, dogs or pets and with different stimuli, including loud noises, but always from a positive perspective and experience for the dog. This is vital to achieve adult dogs that are emotionally stable.
Socialization is a slow and progressive process that we start in our breeder for toy or mini dogs, and we advise that they can continue it in their new homes with their families.
It is about taking the dog progressively to places where there is a lot of noise, from the street, to markets, then parties and outdoor concerts, for example. Every time you take him to these places, try to give him food or a toy so that the dog associates these places with a positive experience.
On the other hand, if you have not acquired your dog from a breeder where responsible breeding is practiced, and the animal has not been previously socialized, avoid exposing it to these stimuli directly. Remember, do it little by little, progressively. You have to keep in mind that a single bad experience is more than enough to develop this type of phobia. So, don’t gamble and make sure that when you get a puppy it is already socialized. And if not, you can consult a dog trainer.
Puppies of toy breeds without fear
Are you looking for a new puppy for your family? Now that you know how important is the socialization of puppies to prevent them from becoming dogs afraid of firecrackers, we invite you to know our litters of toy or mini dogs that we breed in Las Almenas.
If you need more information about our toy dog breeds and the responsible breeding that we develop in Las Almenas, you can ask us through the contact or our profiles on Facebook, Instagram and our YouTube channel.
And if you want to tell us about your experience with dogs afraid of firecrackers, you can leave us your comments below, we look forward to reading them!