Do you have a dog that is terrified of loud noises such as thunder or fireworks? It can be devastating to watch as your dog shakes uncontrollably, pants, and paces every time a storm approaches or during Independence Day celebrations. Not too much is known as to why some dogs have a phobia of loud noises while others don’t. Yet, no matter what the cause, when your dog goes into this panic mode, we’ll do just about anything to relieve their noise anxiety.
Is There Anything That Can Relieve My Dog’s Noise Anxiety?
When your dog suffers from noise anxiety, the symptoms can range from mild such as shaking and panting to severe like excessive pacing and even clawing through drywall. Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do about noise anxiety and it can get worse as your dog gets older. Yet, some relief can be found in a few simple techniques.
Reward Calm Behavior.
Often dog owners unknowingly encourage anxious behavior by petting or trying to console a panicky dog. This only reassures their clingy behavior. Although you must not scold your dog for acting this way, you do not want to reward them either. When your dog begins to panic, playing fetch or offering them their favorite toy may work as a distraction and calm them down.
During times when there is not a storm or other loud noises, practice getting your dog to lie at your feet while praising the calm behavior. By learning this routine beforehand, you can command your dog to sit and relax next to you when a storm comes. Hopefully your dog will replace the fear of what is going on outside with something more comforting.
Find a Safe Place.
When fireworks are going off or there is a clap of thunder in the sky, notice where your dog goes and allow him access if possible. This could be a room, a crate, or a garage. If your dog can’t see or hear what’s going on outside, it may be just enough to calm him down. The best advice is to let your dog decide where to go, within reason of course. Also, you will want to make certain that your dog does not feel trapped as that will only make the anxiety worse.
Get Their Favorite Blanket Ready.
When you anticipate some loud noises, wrap your dog’s favorite blanket around them and have them lay down on the floor or couch next to you. Often dogs will retreat to a familiar comfort spot when anxious or panicky and having their favorite blanket there will certainly help. You can also try a snug-fitting shirt or wrap. There are several so called “pressure garments” on the market that are specifically designed to calm an anxious dog. Some dogs respond better to these kinds of garments than others yet research suggests that they are certainly worth a try.
The Vet May Know Best.
If these methods aren’t effective enough or your dog is in a horrible state of anxiety, you may want to ask your veterinarian for some behavior modification ideas or possibly anti-anxiety medication. While it should not be your first choice, medication may be the best option in extreme cases. Some dog owners only give their pet medication just prior to a thunderstorm or celebration involving fireworks. It is best to work with your vet to determine a proper treatment plan.
No one knows for sure why some dogs are fearful of loud noises such as thunder and fireworks. Yet, we do know that if left untreated, the panic and anxiety gets worse with time. Fortunately, there are some things loving dog parents can do about it even in severe cases. So, the next time your dog goes into panic mode, try some of the simple techniques mentioned here.