Weird but true:
Some dogs love fireworks (and aren’t afraid of them).
Read on to find out. In this article you’ll discover:
- How your dog’s genes affect whether or not they’re afraid of fireworks.
- A hilarious video where you can see a dog that enjoys watching fireworks.
- What science has to say about dogs and fireworks (get all the titbits of 3 studies).
- 9 reasons why some dogs aren’t afraid of fireworks (and why some dogs even love them).
- And more…
Table of contents
- Why is my dog not afraid of fireworks?
- Why does my dog love fireworks?
- Why are dogs afraid of loud noises, such as fireworks?
- 9 Reasons why dogs are not afraid of fireworks
- #1: You are calm
- #2: They are used to loud noises
- #3: You don’t make a big fuss out of fireworks
- #4: Your dog associates fireworks with something positive
- #5: Other dogs provide comfort
- #6: White noise helps
- #7: They are desensitized to the sounds of fireworks
- #8: You are a proactive owner
- #9: You got your dog from a reputable breeder
Why is my dog not afraid of fireworks?
Your dog is not afraid of fireworks because of gradual desensitization to loud sounds. The process is best done when dogs are puppies. As a result, early exposure to loud sounds eliminates fear of fireworks.
Why does my dog love fireworks?
Your dog loves fireworks because of how you react. If you are calm and don’t make a big deal out of fireworks, your dog will pick up these cues. Your dog could also associate fireworks with something positive.
Why are dogs afraid of loud noises, such as fireworks?
I know a friend whose dog, Minchie, isn’t afraid of fireworks. It was during a Fourth of July event that they found out about it.
They were so engrossed that it took them a moment to remember their dog. Their search took them to all the rooms of the house.
Only to find Minchie out on the porch. To their surprise, Minchie was relaxing.
They recounted how they stood there in amazement. Their dog just spared them a glance then sighed deeply.
She didn’t seem to mind the noise!
However, there are more dogs that are afraid of fireworks.
A 2018 survey found out that 40% of dogs were afraid of fireworks…
This accounted for 3.6 million dogs in the United Kingdom only.
Dogs usually develop this fear in the first year of life, as this research found out. The results showed that 52% (1225 dogs) were partially affected by their fear of fireworks.
The researchers also noted the following factors affecting the severity of firework fears:
- Breed group.
- Neuter status.
- Age at acquisition of puppy.
Another research found out that fear responses to fireworks were the most common. This was compared to gunshots and thunder.
It also found out that the dogs’ fear responses to noises were based on the following:
- Characteristics of dogs.
- Their exposure to loud noises.
- The environment they were exposed to when young.
However, this Oslo study in 2015 had a different finding. The study looked into the behavior of 5257 dogs in Norway.
The owners answered surveys about their pets’ responses to fireworks, loud noises, thunder and heavy traffic.
The result showed that responses to these noises co-occurred. It also suggested that it’s the dog’s biology that affects fear. In short, it’s in the genes.
If this is the case for dogs afraid of fireworks …
… what could explain why some dogs seem to love the noise?
Here I will discuss some possible reasons why they do.
9 Reasons why dogs are not afraid of fireworks
#1: You are calm
How you respond to noises affects your dog’s own response.
Let me make an example. Your fear of spiders can be transferred to your children. They see how you scream or hop around when there’s a spider.
So your children conclude that something’s wrong with spiders. And that they should avoid the critters all the time.
But calmly shoo the spider away. Your children become more curious about these animals. They do not become fearful of spiders.
The same happens to a dog. If a frog scares you and makes you run, your dog takes cues from your reaction.
They could be thinking: Noted – frogs are to be scared of.
Apply the same principle to fireworks.
Dogs would take cues from their family’s reaction.
They see children shrieking and making crazy movements in excitement. Your dog could mistake it for something negative.
But if you act casual, then your dog thinks it’s okay. If it doesn’t bother you, why should it bother them?
So to make them calm during fireworks, remain calm yourself.
Note: If your dog looks at you after hearing loud sounds, reassure them that it’s okay. Trust me, they will understand you.
#2: They are used to loud noises
Many dog owners have noticed that their dogs watch fireworks calmly. The one thing they have in common?
Their dogs are used to loud noises.
Just like this pooch calmly watching fireworks:
This research observed that exposure to loud noises affected fear responses. The environment where they grew up also played a role.
Take gundogs for example. They have been exposed to gunshots all their life. Not only that. Their trainers made sure that dogs have a positive association with the gun.
When they’re out in the field, dogs know the sound, smell and sight of hunting. They become excited as they hear the click of the safety catch.
They know something good’s about to follow after the gunshot.
Another example is when a dog lives in high traffic areas. Everyday, they hear the beeps and honks of cars outside. They eventually get used to the sounds.
#3: You don’t make a big fuss out of fireworks
A friend owning a German Shepherd shared why his dog wasn’t afraid of fireworks:
They ignored fireworks.
This began when their dog was a puppy. They knew their dog could get scared. So they didn’t make a fuss about the loud noise.
And when fireworks season came around, they found out it worked.
He said that it might have helped his dog to ignore the sounds as well. His dog would react by settling down as though there were no fireworks.
#4: Your dog associates fireworks with something positive
Sometimes it’s simply puzzling why some dogs love fireworks.
There’s this Labrador owner whose dog totally enjoyed watching fireworks. At first she thought her Lab was scared. But she noticed how her dog would run outside to watch.
This happened many times and the dog didn’t seem scared. There was no shaking, or tail tucked between the legs.
The owner thought it might have something to do with positive association.
She recalled how, when her dog was a puppy, she gave the Lab attention. And then she carried the dog to the window to watch the fireworks.
#5: Other dogs provide comfort
Have you seen dogs comforting other dogs? This could explain why some dogs settle down after hearing fireworks.
A particular dog owner has 2 dogs. The older one was already used to loud sounds.
The night they watched some fireworks, the younger dog ran to her bed and cried. But the older one came to her side and sat by her. It looked as though he was comforting her.
The owner noticed that the distressed dog eventually calmed down.
The following years, she no longer showed fear of fireworks. She probably knew that her sibling would be there to comfort her.
There is not much research about dogs empathizing with other dogs. But there’s this one study in 2017.
It aimed to find out how dogs react to other dogs’ emotions. Researchers played barking (positive) and dog whining (negative) as cues.
The study found out that dogs paid more attention to negative cues. The dogs showed a higher level of distress when exposed to dog whining.
This implies that dogs, indeed, can empathize with other dogs.
#6: White noise helps
Dogs are exposed to white noise all the time.
From TV, radio, even a noisy bathroom exhaust fan.
According to AKC, white noise can help mask the sounds of fireworks. There’s no guarantee it will work in all dogs, but it works in some.
You can also try playing calming music for dogs. It could help them cope when stressed.
#7: They are desensitized to the sounds of fireworks
Desensitizing your dog to loud noises is probably the best you can do.
While fireworks season is away, use this time to slowly desensitize your dog.
Play sounds of fireworks, thunder and gunshots in low volume. Immediately follow with giving your dog tasty treats.
This is a process called counter-conditioning. You want your dog to associate the sounds with something positive.
Increase the volume gradually. Make sure that your dog is comfortable with the volume of the sound.
Play the sounds everyday until your dog is used to the volume that is acceptable to humans. Then play the sounds once a week until the dog is a year old.
Note: Do not leave your dog alone while they listen to the sounds.
#8: You are a proactive owner
Being proactive means taking action even before problems appear.
Aside from desensitizing dogs, it pays to seek professional help.
Professionals can help find the best strategy for dogs to cope with loud noises.
#9: You got your dog from a reputable breeder
Did you know that pregnant mother dogs can pass on anxiety to their babies?
Cortisol, the stress hormone, makes that possible.
If the mother is in a stressful situation, the body produces high levels of cortisol. This has negative effects on a developing puppy.
You can prevent this scenario by getting a puppy from a reputable breeder. Make sure that the mother dog did not go through any stressful experience.
And let the breeder know that you don’t want a reactive puppy.