Summer is here and the numbers of things that go bang in the night are on the increase. Thunderstorms, fireworks, motorcycles and even our neighbors are more prevalent in the summertime. Anyone of these can send an anxious dog running for cover. While a startled response to loud noise is normal, some dogs are more sensitive than others. Loud crashes, bangs, and explosions can trigger noise phobia that can cause reactions such as shaking, excessive yawning (a sign of stress) to more pronounce behavior such as digging at carpet, walls, under fences, running into glass doors and hiding in closets and under blankets or clothing. Below are some ways to help your dog conquer his fear of loud noises.
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You can desensitize your dog to loud noises by exposing him to the sounds that scare him. Sounds of such things as thunderstorms can be reproduced on CD. Start at low volumes and gradually increase the level as long as the dog remains relaxed. Giving your dog a reward while they are relaxed will reinforce the behavior.
Try comforting and encouragement. Talk soft and offer reassurance to your dog that everything will be alright.
Use classical conditioning by giving your dog a treat as a thunderstorm is approaching. He will associate the positive treat with the storm. This method works best with puppies or dogs that do not already have phobias towards loud noises.
If after using the methods above your dog still exhibits noise phobias consult your veterinarian for additional treatments such as anti-anxiety medication. I always recommend trying the natural methods prior to giving any medication.
A startled response to loud noise is normal. However, some dogs are more sensitive than others. If your pet dog is sensitive to loud noise, use the steps listed above to help reduce their stress.