Everything You Need To Know If Your Stressed-Out Dog Says “HECK NOPE” To Fireworks

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

June 29, 2020

As a human person, there’s so much to love about the summertime. There are, of course, barbecues and parades, but most importantly, there are fireworks. While we love to “ooh” and “ahhh” at these colorful, sparkly displays, our dogs are less than impressed. As it turns out, dogs are not fans of the loud, echoey booms and unpredictable pops of fireworks. In fact, the sounds are big time stressors that can make your pup nervous and all panic, hold the disco.

As a result of all this firework-induced anxiety, the number of lost pets jumps 30% from July 4th to July 6th. Unsurprisingly, all the overwhelming, very scary noise and light sends pups straight into flight mode. Keeping your dog comfy and cozy is a top priority all year long, but it’s especially important this time of year. Here’s what you need to know to keep things fun and fresh this fireworks season:

First, Why Are Dogs Afraid Of Fireworks?

As you can imagine, when you’re comparatively very small and have no real concept of pyrotechnics, fireworks are reasonably pretty startling. This is especially true when you consider how sensitive a dog’s ears and nose are. Unlike other comparable loud sounds, like thunder, fireworks are much closer to the ground. As a result, dogs’ acute hearing makes for a much more deafening experience, which is definitely not helped by the bright flashing lights and unpleasant smoky, burning smell. For a dog, the whole situation is zero out of five stars, would not recommend to a friend.

Create A Safe Space

A scared pup’s first response is probably going to be to try and get as far away from the situation as possible. Consequently, it’s super important to try and set up a safe, soothing space where they can hide away until things have calmed down. Shut the blinds, dim the lights, and designate a specific spot for a pup safe space; a crate with a blanket draped overtop or a cozy dog bed in the bedroom are ideal options.

When you’re creating your dog’s cozy cave, make sure it’s set up somewhere your dog can get to easily. Otherwise your pup could injure themselves trying to get in or out while startled. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to your chosen safe area with treats or toys: this will bring comfort and help them feel more at ease.

Prepare Your Home

Your home is where your dog is safest and coziest. Make sure to prep for fireworks by closing curtains to help block out flashes of light. Turning on the TV or radio can also be helpful in drowning out loud bangs and adding a sense of familiarity. You can also place lavender scented items around your home to help soothe—use a spray or gently bruise the leaves and flowers of fresh plants (just keep ’em out of reach!).


Stay calm! Your dog can sense when you’re feeling panicky and will mirror your attitude, so it’s essential to keep your cool, even if they aren’t. Reassure your pet without giving them too much attention to avoid reinforcing the behavior for next time, and try to feed them before the fireworks start, as they might be too anxious to eat during the show. It’s also a good idea to go for walks or potty breaks BEFORE or AFTER the fireworks go off—there’s nothing harder to deal with than a panicked pup on leash!

Try Calming Aids

There are a number of products available to help keep dogs calm in frightening situations, and if you have the chance to try a few beforehand it will be a lifesaver to have something you know will work. Calming treats given prior to stressful events can help dogs stay relaxed without sedating them, and all-natural CBD extracts and biscuits have been known to reduce stress, anxiety, and discomfort associated with noise phobias with no side-effects.

Pressure-related calming devices may also be useful, like ThunderShirts, which employ constant, gentle pressure (like swaddling a baby) to help reduce anxiety and over-excitement.

Other Precautions To Keep In Mind

1. Find out when your neighborhood plans to hold their fireworks display to plan accordingly.
2. Please please please make sure your dog is wearing an ID tag in case they manage to escape, even if they’re microchipped (hey, better to be over-prepared, right?).
3. Beforehand, try to introduce your dog to similar noises slowly (with treats!). This will help reinforce the idea that there is nothing to be frightened of come fireworks night.

Stay safe, calm, and comfortable this summer!

h/t RSPCA and The Humane Society

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

June 29, 2020

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