How to Deal with Canine Noise Aversion
As many as half of all dogs may have some form of canine noise aversion, though it affects some dogs more than others.If your dog has this condition, loud noises cause an over-exaggerated fear response in your canine friend. If your dog has this condition, your dog may harm you, your furniture, or even itself due the stress and fear this condition causes. Therefore, taking steps to deal with your dog's fear is in everyone's best interest. You can help your dog by figuring out if it is affected, identifying and avoiding triggers, comforting it, and using medications as needed.
Dealing With Triggers
Notice if your dog reacts to loud noises.Pay attention to your dog when loud noises happen. Your dog may jump, cower, or make noises like whining or barking. It may also chew on walls, furniture, or anything it can get its teeth into.
- Pay attention to less obvious signs. While you may notice your dog being extra whiny, you may not notice that it's following you around more because of a loud noise. Other less-obvious signs include excessive panting or drooling, hiding, or trying to escape. Your dog may also be on alert, looking around to see what's wrong.
Understand your dog may develop noise aversion.While some dogs may inherit this trait, others may develop it. Usually, dogs who develop this trait do so because they had a bad experience associated with a loud noise, which in turn makes them fearful of loud noises.
Identify triggers.Not every dog with this condition responds to all the same noises. Therefore, it's important to pay attention to which noises bother your dog most. That way, you can work to alleviate the fear before it even starts, such as providing a safe space for your dog if you know a storm is coming.
- For instance, your dog may react to thunderstorms by running and hiding but only react to a loud truck outside by whimpering a little. In that case, your dog is more afraid of thunderstorms.
Change up triggers.One way to help your dog deal with some loud noises is by providing alternatives to the noise. Try turning on the television or some soothing music to help drown out the outside noises, for instance. You can also use white noise to the same effect.
- Try to cover up triggers as much as possible. For instance, you could play music your dog enjoys on days when there will be fireworks around.
- Remove triggers if possible. For instance, if you know your dog doesn't like the vacuum cleaner, try to get someone to take it on a walk while you vacuum. Also, shut windows and blinds when there's a thunderstorm or fireworks outside to help block out the noise as much as possible.
Put ear muffs on.Ear muffs can help block out some of the sound, making it less scary for your dog. Of course, you need to get ear muffs made specifically for your dog, which you can find online and at some pet stores. Some dogs may not take to wearing ear muffs, though.
- Another option is noise-cancelling headphones for dogs.
Don't force loud noises on them.Some people think they can help their dog get over the fear by exposing the dog to more of it. While some noise-exposure programs do work to get your dog accustomed to loud noises, throwing your dog outside during a thunderstorm or taking it to a fireworks celebration will only terrify your dog, not make it better.
- If you do want to try to encourage your dog to be less fearful with noise, try a program developed for this purpose. You can find albums on the internet designed to help. The albums have noises that are disturbing to some dogs, but you can use them to acclimate your do to them. The idea is that you play the noises at softer levels and gradually move to louder levels, so your dog gets used to them.
Comforting Your Dog
Let your dog be with you.If possible, try to be with your dog when there are loud noises around. Having you nearby will help your dog feel more reassured than if it were alone. You're part of its pack, and you help make it feel safer when things are scary.
- For instance, if you know there's going to be fireworks, like on the Fourth of July, try to be home, and make sure not to leave your dog outside.
Don't overcompensate.While you do want to be there for your dog, make sure you're not over-comforting it. That is, if you are acting anxious and nervous because your dog is scared, that will only make it more nervous. Dogs are sensitive to emotions, so if you're anxious, you'll make it more anxious.
- For example, if your dog is whimpering in the corner, you can pet it as you go by, but don't try to get down in the corner with it. Stay in the same room with it, and let it come to you if it wants to.
Make a safe space.To help your dog deal with the noise, try to create a safe space it can retreat to. The best option is a dog bed or kennel in a windowless room with some sound protection. If your dog doesn't already use a space like this one, get it accustomed to it by feeding it in that area or bringing treats over there. You can also add the dog's favorite toy and blanket.
Don't yell at your dog.If your dog is chewing on the wall because its afraid, you may be tempted to punish it. Doing things like yelling or putting the dog outside will only make the dog more anxious. Plus, your dog will have another bad thing to associate with loud noises--being punished.
- Try distracting your dog with treats if possible. Otherwise, try to use the other tactics listed to distract your dog from the noise.
Try a thunder shirt.Thunder shirts are a kind of tight vest that you put on your dog when there might be loud noises. It seems to help some dogs deal with the anxiety of loud noises. It may be that they perceive at as someone protecting them.
- Also, some dogs try to crawl into tight spaces with this phobia, so it could be it helps with that need.
Provide chew toys.Chewing is a great stress reliever for your dog, which is why some dogs chew on walls and furniture when they're upset. While you don't want your dog chewing on your furniture, you can give it something to chew on. That way, you don't have ruined furniture, and your dog gets stress relief.
- Bones (from a pet store) and pig ears are great for this purpose, as they taste good as well as keep your dog occupied. You can also try a puzzle food toy to keep your dog occupied.
Consider pheromones.Some dogs can be helped through the use of pheromones. You can use a collar or an oil diffuser to release the pheromone scents. The smells remind the dog of being with its mother, which may help comfort it.
- Both the oils you need and the diffusers or collars can be found online and in some pet stores.
Ask about an anxiety medicine.For dogs that are fearful of many noises all the time, an anxiety medicine may help. Your dog would need to take it every day for it to be effective. Talk to your vet about whether this is a good option for your dog.
- You could say, "My dog has severe noise aversion. He tends to chew walls, whimper, or sprint away from me when there are loud noises. I've heard anxiety medications may help. What do you think of that option for my dog?"
- While some dogs may require anxiety meds their whole lives, others can be weaned off of them in time.
- Another option is sedatives, taken in the moment that the dog is being triggered.
Discuss Sileo.This medication hit the markets in 2019. It's an option designed specifically for treating noise aversion in dogs. The drug is designed to stop norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is somewhat like adrenaline, and it pumps up your dog's anxiety. This drug helps to block the increase of norepinephrine. Better yet, it wears off in a few hours.
- You could say, "My dog has problems with noise aversion. He runs and hides every time there is a thunderstorm or fireworks, and he tries to burrow into tiny spaces. I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself. I've heard there's a new drug on the market, Sileo, meant for this issue.
Video: Recognizing and Treating Canine Noise Aversion in Your Shelter
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