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When my dog was younger she had no visible reaction to fireworks or thunder. At about 5 years old it started to be an issue, and now (at 7) she panics and hides under the table, shaking, when some little popping fireworks go off down the street.

My dog does not have this reaction to other things that sound similar to me; cars backfiring, garbage trucks dumping, construction crews using power tools, and neighborhood parties with loud subwoofers do not provoke her at all.

What is it about fireworks and thunder that make dogs react so strongly? Is this reaction common to every dog or more individual in nature? Are there factors such as breed, age, etc. that make dogs more or less sensitive?

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Good evening! No, not all dogs have this reaction. I believe some individual dogs are more sensitive to these and other stressors, for a variety of reasons. For dogs that are sensitive to sounds/scents/concussive force of pyrotechnics, I think it’s a very threatening experience to be exposed to the sound of fireworks. Because we have know way to tell what parts of the experience an individual dog may or may not register as threatening, we have to consider that the sound, scents, the visuals - any component of the experience - may trigger the fearful reaction, even at low levels (below our ability to detect with our senses) or at a distance with low intensity fireworks.

During storms, we aren’t really clear on what triggers some dogs. It may be barometric pressure changes, it could be thunder - again, at a distance or a volume that we may not notice. I do believe that the more sensitive types of dogs (without specifically identifying individuals of specific breeds, for instance) are more likely to experience noticeable problems around thunderstorms and/or fireworks. There are plenty of dogs that are oblivious to thunder, fireworks, etc. It’s unusual for dogs with really solid temperaments, with a solid history of socialization to a variety of stimuli like these to suddenly become reactive. Unfortunately, many people unintentionally and unknowingly choose pets that are inclined to display fearful or needy behavior.

When we select dogs as potential service animal candidates (for instance) or pets, we try to avoid dogs that are at all timid, nervous, and overly needy. Confident dogs are more easily and safely integrated into a variety of environments without a lot of the adjustment problems related to sound sensitivities, weather, etc. These issues detract from the pleasure of the pet parenting experience and, depending upon how severe and frequent sound sensitivities are an issue, they may really negatively impact the dog’s quality of life, as well.

Hope this helped!

Have a great night...

DPO

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