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Why Are Fireworks Such A Trigger For So Many Dogs?

by Kathy Dannel Vitcak 3 min read

dogs afraid fireworks

Fireworks Are MY Sworn Enemy

Most people in the USA look forward to the 4th of July. Not me. All I can think about are all the terrified dogs across the USA...trembling, drooling, hiding under their human's legs or hunkered down behind the sofa. Personally, I think fireworks should be illegal except for certified individuals who could then put on controlled shows on the 4th. Plus, every year kids get hurt, NFL/NHL/NBA players lose fingers and parents are hoarse from screaming, "Put that down!" Ugh, not my idea of fun, but there I go being all judgy again.

For those of us with dogs who are traumatized by fireworks it can be an especially brutal day. Not only do you have to see your poor dog go through their worst nightmares for a day or more, but you miss out on all the fun. But until fireworks are banned, we will have to muddle through that dreaded day.

What Are Some Dogs Terrified By Fireworks and Not Others?

Why are some dogs reduced to a puddle of trembling, drooling nerves, while others aren't? Our Great Pyrenees Zoe, the one who chased bears off our property like it was nothing, was a shaking, drooling mess while my Frenchies never seemed to notice! My brain always wants to know WHY and there does seem to be a correlation between the dogs who are the most fireworks/thunder phobic and those who don't care. This is in no way a scientific study, merely my thinking out loud here. I'll toss this out for us to ponder.

It seems to me the herding, livestock guard dogs and believe it or not, hunting type dogs are more stressed by fireworks. The bully breeds and many of the smaller companion dogs don't seem to care as much. 

Could it be the herding/livestock guard dogs panic as they fear an attack on their charges that they are unprepared for? They can't see it (not like they could see a wolf or bear), they may smell it and they certainly hear it, but they can't tell where it is coming from. It is full-blown panic attack mode as they don't know what to do.

Hunting/bird dogs may be great in the filed, but they have learned to anticipate the gunshot. They see the gun go up and brace for the shot. They know when they flush the birds that the noise follows. They have no such moment of anticipation to prepare themselves for fireworks (or often thunder). Their lack of knowingness of what happens next throws them off and it terrifies them. Also, gunshots are BOOM, then nothing. It has one noise and stops. They learn the pattern quickly.

Add the actual painful sound of fireworks whistling and exploding, people clapping, yelling and children squealing and you've got a recipe for scared dog. Plus, our dogs smell the acrid smoke and it may even sting their eyes. Lose/lose for our dogs as their senses are assaulted.

If your dog is triggered by fireworks or loud noises, you probably dread the 4th. For years Steve and I lived on a lake that was fireworks central for the area and it was as stressful as you might imagine!

With some planning and a bit of preparation you can sail through the 4th with a minimum amount of stress and anxiety. Full transparency...we do not have a magic potion that melts all of your dog's fear away and has them romping around the park or lake as fireworks explode. We do offer our tried and true Relax Dog Aromatherapy which soothes the ragged edges of your dog's fear and helps calm them down enough to survive the holiday.

Download our EZ 4th of July Prep Checklist to help make that dreaded day more blissful - Download Here. Opens in new window. And read Tips for Surviving the 4th of July here.


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