Understanding Dog Noise Phobias and Training Your Dog Not to Be Afraid
Humans can have all kinds of phobias. But do you realize your lovable dog can have them too? Dog noise phobias can consist of loud noises like thunder, fireworks, and sirens. There might be times that you come home from work and it’ll look like a hurricane swept through the living room. You can help them ease his fears if they have any, but the first part of that is understanding them.
Did you know that ⅓ of all dogs are affected with sound anxieties and noise phobias? The noises mentioned above plus others like speakers with heavy bass and dishes crashing on the floor might make a pooch freeze on the spot or pace and shake, destroy your home, lose control of his bowels, bolt from the room or hide, salivate or pant excessively or bark and howl desperately. Some dogs may exhibit almost all of these symptoms while others only display one. But what causes noise phobias in dogs? Here are some reasons why they could be frightened:
- It’s a loud sound that he’d never heard before.
- Severe or chronic ear infections or injuries could change the way they recognize the sound and cause behavioral issues.
- As a puppy, they suffered psychological trauma.
- A senior dog’s hearing might be altered which could be responsible for fear of certain noises.
- So if your four-legged pal is suddenly frightened of specific noises, it may be prudent to get them to your veterinarian to make sure they don’t have a medical problem. If there aren’t any medical issues, then you and your veterinarian can begin examining the source of your dog’s sound phobias.
Dog Noise Phobias Treatment
Your dog is like your child, and you want to comfort them when they are feeling scared. But while it’s natural to want to console them, it may defeat the purpose. Why? Patting, to your hound, is a reward. So you may unintentionally be reinforcing the behavior in addition to confusing them. There are even a few canines that become more anxious if you pat them during phobic events.
What can you do about Dog Noise Phobias?
Veterinarians have made considerable strides when it comes to helping pups who have behavioral issues caused by noise phobias. They have found that essential oils such as relaxing lavender, violet leaf, and sandalwood work well; likewise, stress-relieving pheromones, natural remedies like Calm Forte and pharmaceutical medicines like Reconcile used with behavior modification are great too. Used as a combo or by themselves, veterinarians have aided many dogs who deal with anxiety due to noise phobias.
Surprisingly, many dogs respond well when they’re trained to react differently to loud noises. So if you’d rather try to modify your furry baby’s behavior before turning to medicine or natural remedies, there are a few things you can do:
Desensitization & Counter-Conditioning
Generally, phobias develop in the first year or two of life, so this works best when you see the phobia just starting to form in your dog. This method uses sound effects from a CD, record or website. You begin by playing the offending sound 2-3 times a week at a low volume. Over time you slowly raise the volume. But be careful that you don’t exceed the volume level that creates anxiety in your fur baby; the idea is for them to remain calm and eventually associate the sound with something positive and safe. Each time they don’t react to the specific noise, you provide a reward of play, affection or a treat.
But be aware that this method isn’t particularly effective when it comes to thunderstorms because thunderstorms are multi-sensory. You may have good luck training your dog to get used to thunderclaps, but they will still be fearful of lightning flashes, static electricity in the air, the sound of the wind, pressure change and rain.
Sometimes a cozy, dark space can help calm a phobic pooch. Some dogs prefer to go to a closet, under a desk or bed. Perhaps provide them a dark, quiet and, if possible, windowless room; if putting them in a windowless room isn’t feasible, cover the windows with blankets or foam. If they sleep in a crate, you can also cover it with blankets to create that dark space they crave. They may require some training to go to his crate or the room when a pending storm is about to occur. No matter which is more comfortable for them always make sure they have a bed, some toys, and treats. You can even sit quietly with your furry friend if they allow it. Remember, the idea is for them to be calm and feel safe.
Awesome Tech Stuff
There are a few great ideas to help ease your pup’s noise phobias:
- If your hound is afraid of fireworks, it’s going to be hard to find that quiet space. So try playing soothing music to mitigate the tormenting sounds and help calm them.
- You might find that the Adaptil pheromone collar can work wonders for your noise phobic dog. They will be taken back to their puppyhood when the pheromones are released, and they will feel as safe as they did with his mom.
- Maybe your pup might like the Thundershirt or other compressive clothes. It’s not known why dogs like them—perhaps because it feels like a nice, comforting hug.
- Mutt Muffs won’t cancel out the offending noise entirely. But it will make it softer and less menacing for your four-legged pal.
If they will let you, try to lean against or on them continuously and gently. Their muscles should start to relax if this is calming them; if not, then this method isn’t right for them.
These techniques should not be forced on your beloved canine. So you may have to experiment to discover what works best for them. If you need help with dog noise phobias, please contact Canine Commander.