You may not realize that your dog is overreacting out of fear to sounds. There are many common signs your dog could be displaying that can help identify which noises, known as “triggers,” are causing them fear and anxiety. These reactions are known as noise aversion, a serious medical condition that is treatable
If you notice your dog overreacting to everyday noises around your home, he or she isn’t alone. In fact, 2 out of 3 dogs show signs of fear to loud noises.
Noise aversion is not “normal” for dogs.
“Thunder, fireworks, and loud vehicles are probably the most common noise phobia triggers. Dogs’ sensitivity to changes in barometric pressure can trigger fearful reactions to thunder long before humans even hear it.”
Dog Noise Phobia Treatment: Getting Your Dog Used to Scary Sounds
- First, you can help get your dog used to noises by slowly exposing them to low-level noises. Play videos of your dog’s triggers, such as fireworks or thunder, on your phone quietly. Then, slowly increase the noise to the point that your dog isn’t exhibiting fearful behaviors but tolerating the noise.
- Do this over many sessions. This may take months to achieve. If at any moment the dog acts fearful, stop the recording. Then, the following session, start playing the recording again on a lower volume.
What You Shouldn’t Do When Your Dog is Afraid of Loud Noises
- First, reassuring your anxious dog through pets, cuddles, and treats may reinforce the fearful behavior. You should behave normally to show your dog has nothing to fear in that situation.
- Second, don’t punish your dog for being fearful. That will only make them more fearful. Allow them to hide or do what comes naturally to them. Note what triggered the sound so you know what to except next time.
- Lastly, don’t force your dog to go near the loud noise. They may panic and become aggressive. Again, allow them to retreat to their safe space
- Change The Dog’s Environment
- Create a safe haven for your dog, such as a blanket-covered crate, or find a location that will reduce the noise level.
- Turn on soft music or the television to help mask the sound of the problem noise.
- If you know an event is coming, like a thunderstorm or fireworks, give your dog a lot of exercise beforehand. This can help burn off energy that would otherwise go toward anxious behaviors.
None of the above typically shows dramatic results, but they can help to reduce symptoms
- Pressure Wraps
- This is a surprisingly simple and effective treatment for many dogs. A “pressure wrap” is anything that wraps around the dog’s torso and chest to provide a constant, gentle pressure.
- Why does it work? No one knows for sure, but it’s likely a combination of making the dog feel comforted and secure while distracting them from concentrating on whatever they fear.
- You can try to make one yourself out of an appropriately sized t-shirt, or purchase a Thundershirt. Pressure wraps often show good results with the first usage, however some dogs require two, three, or more usages before you see reduced or eliminated symptoms.
- Behavior Modification
- Desensitization is the most common behavior modification tried for noise anxiety.
- In a nutshell, you begin by exposing your dog to a low level of the noise that bothers them in a controlled environment. As they get accustomed to it, you increase the levels louder and louder over time until they learn to tolerate the real deal.
- If your dog’s anxiety is serious enough, there are a variety of prescription medications that your vet may suggest.
- Some are administered on a regular basis for the life of the dog. Some are given only at the time of an anxiety event. Sometimes a combination of drugs are used.
- If you go this route, make sure you ask your vet about any potential risks and side effects with the drugs you’re considering.
- Pheromones & Supplements
- Some pet parents choose to treat their dogs with more natural remedies, which can include pheromones and supplements meant to keep dogs calm. These can present alternatives to medication that often don’t cause as many side effects.
- Several products on the market emit natural pheromones that can have a calming, reassuring effect on dogs. These can come in the form of collars, diffusers, sprays, and more. We recommend a D.A.P. collar which you can purchase over the counter.
Does your dog get anxious around loud noises like thunder or fireworks?