How to Manage Your Dog's Noise Phobia
May 1, 2019
Noise phobias are common in dogs. They can be triggered by pretty much anything loud - fireworks, thunderstorms, traffic, gunshots, and even bird noises. Yes, you heard that right. Some dogs are scared of birds. Usually, it's the other way around. Whatever the trigger for your dog's phobia, the result is the same: fear and anxiety.
The last thing you want is for your canine companion to feel this way. But what can you do about the noise? It's true, the noise is often out of your control. What you can do is help them deal with their fear. Here are a few ways that you can manage dog noise phobias:
Signs Of Noise Phobia In Dogs
Before you start treating a problem, you should be sure you know what you're dealing with. A few of the most common signs that your dog has a noise phobia are:
Urinating or defecating
Trying to escape
If you notice your dog behaving like this every time they're exposed to loud noises, then it's probably noise phobia.
Get A Check Up
Sometimes, there's a medical condition underlying a dogs fear of noise. This is especially the case when the phobia appears out of nowhere. Your first step in treating a noise phobic dog should be to take them for a vet checkup. That way, you'll be able to rule out a serious medical condition being the real problem.
Give Them A Safe Space
A fearful dog will naturally seek out a safe place. Some dogs want to hide somewhere small and dark. Some just want to be next to their owners. This won't fix the underlying issues, but it will ensure that the phobia doesn't get any worse.
If your dog is the hiding type, make sure they have a safe place to do this. Preferably a secure crate. Similarly, if your dog seeks out your companionship, then make sure you are there to comfort them. This can require some foresight — and a bit of sacrifice — on your part. If they're triggered by fireworks, for example, make sure you're around on the 4th of July.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the worst thing you can do to a fearful dog is to scold them. This will just escalate the phobia. In some cases, it may even cause them to become fearful of you, which is dangerous for everyone involved.
Counterconditioning is the process of associating fearful stimuli with something positive. As an example, say you have a dog who is scared of construction noise. In order to train them to associate positive feelings with construction noise, you can expose them to it in a controlled environment while feeding them their favorite treats. Over time, your dog will come to realize that construction noise means that it's time for a treat.
If you've exhausted all of your other options, then it may be time to consider medication. There are a number of medications available to treat noise phobias. Many of them have unpleasant side effects and some can even alter the personality of your dog. Still, in cases of severe phobia, the side effects may be worth it. In some cases, the phobia can't be cured. It's more a matter of managing it. With these techniques, you can help them live a healthy, happy life even with a noise phobia. It just requires you to put in a little work. And really, it's the least you can do to pay them back for all of the love and joy they provide you.