If your dog has been barking at fireworks this post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog bark at fireworks? Possible reasons why your dog barks at fireworks are that it is fearful of them, it triggers a fight or flight response, it has sensitive hearing, it senses vibrations in the ground or it could be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by rewarding it.
There are a number of possible reasons why it might bark at fireworks and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can do in order to get it to stop doing it.
Why your dog barks at fireworks
Below are common reasons why dogs do it and what would make them more likely to be the reasons why your dog has been doing it.
The reason could be that the fireworks causes it to become fearful. This would be more likely if it shows signs of being fearful which can include:
- Flattening its ears
- Licking its lips
- Hiding its tail
It triggers a fight or flight response
It might be the case that the loudness of the fireworks gives your dog a fight or flight response where it becomes highly alert quickly in order to be prepared to take action if necessary. This would be more likely if your dog becomes anxious as well when it hears the noises.
In this case, it would help to try to let it stay in a quieter room and to follow the other tips mentioned below.
Dogs have better hearing than we do and they can hear higher-pitched sounds too. When they hear the fireworks, it will seem much stronger to them than it does to us which is likely to be a reason why yours starts barking when it hears them.
Sensing vibrations in the ground
The reason why it does it might also be that it can sense vibrations in the ground. This would be more likely if it only barks when the fireworks are strong and nearby. It would also be more likely if it also barks at things such as thunder.
Its being protective
It could be the case that the loudness of the sounds causes it to think that there is a treat nearby and it barks because it is being protective. This would be more likely if it does not show signs of fear mentioned above and if it becomes highly alert when there are fireworks.
Encouraging the behavior
It might also be the case that you have been encouraging it by giving it rewards when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it starts barking at the fireworks, it might be a part of the reason why it barks more.
It might be worth trying to reward it whenever it shows signs of not barking, to try to distract it before it starts barking and to get it to go to a quieter room.
What to do about your dog barking at fireworks
Below are some options you have when getting it to stop barking at fireworks.
Let it stay in a quieter room
If there is a room in the house that is well insulated from the noise, it might be worth trying to get your dog to stay in that room when there are fireworks. By doing so, it should help to reduce the reaction it has to them.
Another option would be desensitization training, this is where you get it used to hearing the sounds so that they stop bothering it. To do this, you could play the sounds of fireworks quietly from your phone when playing with it so that it has a positive association with the sounds.
Give it distractions
It could also help to give it things to be distracted with when there are fireworks. Things you could give it would include toys, bones or puzzle games.
Mask the noise
It could also help to try to mask the noise by playing other sounds, such as rain sounds, from your phone when there are fireworks.
Reward it for not barking
It would also help to encourage it to stop barking by rewarding it when it does not bark, not rewarding it when it starts barking and waiting for it to stop barking again before rewarding it. Doing this should help to teach it that, if it stops barking, it will get rewards.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been barking at fireworks.
What is different when it does not bark
If it does not always bark at fireworks, it would help to consider if there is anything different when it does not do it. For example, if it does not do it when it is in a certain room, it might be the case that the sound from the fireworks is not very loud in that room.
The body language it shows
It would also help to consider what other body language your dog shows when it does it. If it shows signs of excitement by wagging its tail and running around you, it could be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Whereas, if it shows signs of anxiety by doing things such as hiding, crying or making itself appear smaller, it would be more likely that the fireworks are causing it to be anxious.