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How to Handle Your Dog’s Noise Anxiety

Just like humans, many dogs are also afraid of loud noises. Having a fear of fireworks, thunderstorms and other loud noises is very common in dogs and oftentimes is accompanied by other anxieties. Unfortunately, some dogs may have such an excessive fear of loud noises that it can be harmful to their well-being.

 

Dog’s Response to Noise Anxiety

A dog’s response to loud noises may range from mild to severe. Dogs with a normal and healthy noise fear might just be temporarily startled, however, a dog having serious noise fear may be affected for hours after the noise has passed. These dogs may tremble, pace, salivate and/or try to hide in a safe place. In serious cases, dogs may display extremely destructive behavior like chewing, digging or destroying household items. In these extreme situations, the dog may even try to escape to a place where the sounds are less severe, which may mean the dog tries to leave the yard or house.

 

Triggers of Noise Anxiety in Dogs

Research shows that if a puppy was not exposed to certain sounds in a positive manner by the age of 12-14 weeks old, they may be overly fearful of these sounds as adults. Also, since dogs have more sensitive hearing than humans, they may have a stronger reaction to noises and develop noise anxiety much easier than humans would. The following are some common triggers of noise anxiety for dogs:

  • Thunderstorms
  • Fireworks
  • Vacuum Cleaners
  • Gun Shots
  • Construction Noises
  • Car Alarms and Sirens
  • Loud Cars or Trucks

Ways of Comforting Your Dog from Loud Noises

Create a safe place. Watch to see where your dog tries to go when he hears loud noises. If it’s a closet, for example, allow him access to a closet area. If your dog is normally outside, allow him access to your house to eliminate some of the loud noises. You can create a quiet, dark area anywhere in your house, and even have a sound machine, TV or radio on in that area to help mask the loud sounds.

Modify the environment. If you know a thunderstorm is forecasted or fireworks are planned, try to stay home with your dog. Allow him a safe/quiet place in your house and be sure to close windows and doors to help muffle the sounds.

Behavior modification. You can try behavior modification and conditioning your dog, although this may take some time. Start by re-creating the uncomfortable sounds as best you can. Then, reward and play with your dog as the sound is being reenacted. It’s best to stay calm and cheerful yourself, as your body language can be seen and felt by your dog. Work your dog up to longer sessions of the noise reenactment. Again, this behavior modification is a gradual process of rewarding your dog while being faced with the noise anxiety, and the modification should never be rushed.

Distract your dog. When your dog first shows signs of the noise anxiety, try engaging them in a fun and enjoyable activity to help distract them. Choose something your dog really enjoys like playing with their favorite toys, fetch, etc. As you are distracting them, offer lots of praise and treats.

 

What You Should NOT do When Dealing with Noise Anxiety

  • Don’t punish your dog when they are dealing with noise anxiety
  • Don’t automatically crate your dog – they will still be fearful and may injure themselves by trying to get out of the crate
  • Don’t try to force your dog to be close to the loud noise to try and “get used to it”

 

Natural Remedies and Medical Treatments for Noise Anxiety

There are several natural remedies to assist with your dog’s noise anxiety. Some dogs benefit from the use of pressure shirts which offer a gentle, constant pressure to your dog’s torso while they wear it. Applying pressure to a dog’s torso has been proven to help calm them during fireworks or other noisy situations. These shirts are an affordable, drug-free solution to assist with some of the anxiety dogs are facing.

Another option for your dog’s relief is to give them anxiety relief supplements. There are a variety of supplements on the market, and they can easily be purchased online or at your local pet store. These calming supplements and treats ease stressful situations and calm your dog during thunderstorms, fireworks, car rides and more.

In severe anxiety cases, you may want to consult your veterinarian. They can help to diagnose the condition, prescribe appropriate anxiety medication and design a comprehensive treatment plan for your dog. Since many drugs commonly used to help reduce anxiety have possible side effects, pet owners should caution using these drugs without your veterinarian consent. Furthermore, your veterinarian may advise you to consult with an animal behaviorist, who can work in a positive manner to support your pet, home and environment adaptations, exercise changes, supplements and even offer assistance with prescription medications if necessary.

 

Help Your Dog Live His Best Life

With consistent care from you and your veterinarian, your dog can become less anxious about loud noises. Once your dog’s anxiety is decreased, you and your pooch can enjoy more quality and stress-free time together!

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