Why Fireworks Scare Some Dogs but Not Others was written by Courtney Sexton for Smithsonian Magazine, 26 June 2020. Canine scientists investigate why loud sounds cause some dogs to lose their cool and offer insight on effective treatment

While the sight of a sparkler sends some dogs tail-tucked and running, others remain unfazed by booms and bangs. To sort out this canine confusion, dog researchers around the world are investigating what makes dogs react to sounds with fear. Better understanding canine fear behaviors could improve dogs’ quality of life and even help to explain human fear responses.

Dogs are known for their olfactory prowess, but sound also dictates their experience of the world. Dogs hear more than twice as many frequencies as humans, and they can also hear sounds roughly four times further away. Reacting to every sound would demand too much energy, and so dog brains must determine which sounds are significant and which can be tuned out.

As a society, people are just beginning to accept that dogs, like humans, have emotions. And part of caring for canines means supporting their emotional health. The more we learn about the complexities of dogs’ emotional states, the better equipped we will be to keep their tails happily wagging.

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