Dogs are well known to have excellent hearing, hence why they are so good at alerting their owners to intruders or suspicious sounds! To put the wonders of your dog’s hearing into perspective, a dog’s hearing range is between 65Hz to 50 000Hz, whereas a human’s only reaches between 64Hz and 20 000Hz. While this is great for dog owners as it gives them the assurance that no one will enter their premises unnoticed, it can prove to be troublesome for dogs, especially when it comes to fireworks and loud thunderstorms.
When a dog hears a sound, 18 muscles in its body turn its ears to the source. This allows them to pick up sounds faster and at higher frequencies. Frequencies of above 25 000Hz become uncomfortable for dogs to bear. High frequency sounds are often used on purpose to deter dogs and confuse them, such as by use of training whistles. Dog whistles may produce a sound that is flat for us humans, but for dogs, they are able to pick up the high frequency of the whistle and heed towards its call. Dog whistles are preferred when calling dogs as they produce greater results than the normal whistle of a human being.
Although thunder can startle dogs, they are actually able to prepare themselves somewhat for a thunderstorm by gauging the change in temperature before the storm. Fireworks on the other hand are known to harm a dog’s hearing quite badly as the sound can be compared to a human being startled by a loud bang. When dogs are exposed to the high sounds of fireworks they can get panicked and anxious, which activates their fight or flight response. Dogs will look for any way that will take them away from the sound, even if it involves jumping out of a window or over a fence, which is naturally very dangerous.
In such instances, dog owners are encouraged to prepare their dogs for loud thunderstorms or firework festivities by doing the following:
- Surrounding your dog with familiar things, like their blankets and toys, will help decrease anxiety and bring comfort to your pet.
- Stay with your pet, comforting him and soothing him vocally. Staying with him will also ensure his safety and prevent him escaping in a panic.
- Closing curtains and blinds will prevent your dog from seeing flashes of lighting or the flashes and colours of fireworks. These sudden lights can affect their senses and overwhelm them.
- Consider playing soothing music loudly to drown out the noise of thunder or fireworks. There are many pet-soothing soundtracks online that have been developed for this specific purpose.
- Give your dog a large toy or safe bone to chew can help keep them distracted.
- Although it is important to ensure this at all times, take some time to secure your property and make sure your dog cannot escape by any means (even ones that seem unlikely.)