Your dog has a noise phobia and starts at loud unexpected noises. This can be thunder, fireworks, firetrucks or even when you run the vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately, this condition can show up in a dog at any age.
This phobia could have started when your dog was about a year old or even younger. Maybe there was a thunderstorm which had loud echoing thunder, and that was all it took, and he has been under the bed during thunderstorms ever since.
Noise anxiety can happen because the dog has become afraid when the sound is linked to something unpleasant. Or, a dog could have a predisposition that is genetic and is sensitive and susceptible to loud noises. One thing is certain though; anxiety, fear, and a noise phobia aren’t all the same thing.
The difference between the anxiety, fear, and noise phobias are:
- Anxiety is a fear which is persistent or an apprehension of something which isn’t imminent or even present.
- Fear is an emotional, physiological and behavioral response to an inanimate or animate object which causes a reaction to a potentially dangerous situation.
- Noise phobia or noise anxiety is a persistent fear that is extreme to the auditory stimuli. The aversion is out of proportion to what the danger is when it’s associated with noise.
Symptoms of noise anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety when dealing with noise anxiety in a dog are extreme. For instance, your dog will tremble, pant, panic, hyper-salivate and pace all over the house. Some dogs may lay their ears against their skulls, have wide eyes, tuck their tail between their legs and tense their muscles. Other dogs with noise anxiety may move around the house without a purpose and are restless. Still, other dogs may just shut down, unable to move and just become immobile.
Another thing a dog with a noise phobia may do is to indulge in destructive behavior. You could come home from work and find your couch chewed up, holes in your carpet and your doors scratched. Plus, some dogs may prefer to stay with their owners until the noise has stopped, finding comfort in the closeness. Other dogs like to stay away from everyone and lie in a dark and quiet place.
How to treat noise anxiety
There are different treatments for dog anxiety, but not all treatments work for all dogs. Some treatments can be time-consuming for the owner, and some can have side effects and be expensive. Plus, for maximum effect, it’s not uncommon to combine several treatments for a dog with dog anxiety.
The environment: Changing the environment for the dog is sometimes useful. A safe space can be created by covering a crate with a blanket to make a cave-like effect or find a quiet location to reduce the level of noise. Also, playing music or turning on the television may help deaden the sound which is causing the problem.
Pressure wraps: This is a simple procedure for reducing dog anxiety. You can try wrapping your dog with something which reaches around his torso and chest. A blanket is a good choice as it will provide gentle and constant pressure. It can make your dog feel secure, comforted and help to distract him. Sometimes though, it may take three or more times before symptoms reduce and, in some cases, eliminate them altogether.
Behavior modification: This is one of the most common methods used to try to desensitize a dog for noise anxiety. In an environment which is controlled, the dog is exposed to the noise at a low level. As the dog becomes used to it, the sound is increased until the dog tolerates it without incident.
Medications: If the issue is bad enough, then your pet may need to be medicated during the noise event. There are various prescriptions which can be suggested by a veterinarian. Some are used during the incident only, and some are used on a regular basis. Always make sure to find out about any potential side effects.
Noise anxiety in dogs can be treated with an assortment of different methods.