I have a noise sensitive dog
Panting, pacing, shaking or hiding – is this what your dog does during storms or every Fourth of July?
All those bangs, cracks, rumbles and crashes can sound like the end of the world to your furry little friend.
Dogs are sensitive to shifts in atmospheric pressure. They will start displaying anxious behavior long before the arrival of stormy weather. Dogs aren’t interested in the science of why these noises won’t harm them. All they know is that whatever is coming is going to cause them anxiety. That is when you need to calm their fears.
Safety First Before things Go Bang, Crash, Boom
Most dogs don’t mind loud noises, but if yours is not one of them, it’s up to you to help them find their happy, safe place. Here are some ways to help your dog feel safe when things start going bang, crash, boom:
- At the first signs of anxious behaviour, play a game of fetch or tug. Practice obedience skills or take the opportunity to teach some new tricks. Reward positive, focussed behaviour. If he loses focus, stop and move on to something else.
- Reward calm behavior. Give attention before your dog starts to exhibit stress. Try to muffle the sounds by playing calming music or turning on the television.
- Establish a consistent way for your dog to cope. Does your pet have a special spot where he feels safe? Put his crate or bed in his special safe spot with his favorite dog swaddle blanket or toy stuffed with a treat. 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.
- Leave the crate door open during significant events. Talk to your vet about medication if your dog’s fear causes him to panic and try to escape from his crate or the house. In an effort to escape frightening noises or situations, dogs can be injured or become lost.
- Take time to train your dog not to react to loud noises. As with all noise training methods, this will take time and effort. While you’re playing ask someone to drop an object on the floor. The noise will startle him at first, but the important thing is that you remain calm. Always have a treat at the ready. Increase the height the object is dropped from as he becomes more familiar with the noise.
- Desensitisation or counter-conditioning. Play a recording at low volume of scary noises (thunder, fireworks, loud cars) at feeding time. Reward calm behavior with an extra special treat used only for this exercise. Over the next few days, increase the volume slightly, and keep rewarding with the extra special treat. If the dog starts to display anxious behavior, stop for the day.
- Earmuffs, soft music or a calming dog shirt can be used occasionally when your dog is happy and weather conditions are good. This will allow your dog to develop positive links with them, not just scary ones.
To give short term relief, try using mild calming medications available at your pet store or by prescription from your vet. Dog noise anxiety medicine should be a temporary solution and used in conjunction with other remedies.