Loud, unexpected bangs are frightening for most animals – including us. Loud noises generally mean a violent, high-energy event is nearby, so whether it’s a falling tree, a lightning strike or the roar of a large animal, loud tends to mean dangerous.
Really loud bangs, like fireworks, are actually painful for dogs, since their hearing is so sensitive. But even more importantly, fireworks are an unexplained threat that appears to come from multiple directions at once.
A 2015 study at Oslo University found that older dogs tend to be more scared of bangs, which suggests that rather than becoming desensitised, repeated exposure has the opposite effect. Some dog experts advise giving dogs treats or a special toy during thunderstorms and firework displays, so they learn to associate the bangs with a happy event. The Oslo study also found that noise sensitivity varies among breeds, with collies and schnauzers among the most fearful.