How Common Are Noise Fears in Dogs?
Recent research shows that fear of loud noises and sounds are very common among the dog population. In fact, almost half of dog owners reported their dog responding to loud noises, showing signs of fear or anxiety, such as shivering or hiding. These reports are of considerable concern to the well-being of our dogs, but also to those dogs who unfortunately live unsafe on the streets.
Which sounds cause the biggest problem?
As you might expect, most owners report fears in response to fireworks, followed by firecrackers. In addition to fireworks and firecrackers, dogs are most afraid of thunder. We cannot control nature, but we can be aware of our behavior. During festive season people consider the sound of fireworks a celebration, but from a dog’s point of view, these sounds appear without warning and for no apparent reason!
What do dogs do when they are scared?
Some dogs have reactions that are quite difficult to deal with! Some of them “dig” everything out of the closet due to stress, some hide under the bed, run from room to room or can’t stop shaking. If you happen to be outside with your dog, they may panic and get away from you, potentially through the roads or other dangerous situations?
However, there are dogs that show much more subtle signs. In these cases, the owners may not always recognize that there is a problem. The behavior of a dog responding differently to stress involves licking, otherwise uncharacteristically drooling, lurking under a table or sofa, and following its owner by the foot, snuggling along. These dogs are believed to be just as stressed as those who exhibit dramatic behavior, so it is equally important to recognize these signs and help your dog in this situation.
What if your dog is scared of loud noises?
If your dog is concerned about the noise he hears, there are two things to keep in mind:
- What to do NOW, in the night with fireworks and firecrackers, or during thunder?
- What can I do to help him in the long run?
What you can do now?
The most important thing to do if your dog is concerned about loud noises is:
- Reduce the direct impact of noise and flashes
You can make his environment less intimidating by trying to prevent as much as possible the sounds of fireworks or other sounds to reach your dog. Close the windows and take your dog to the center of the house, where noise is less audible. You can also play music or turn on the TV to mute outside noises. Curtains should also be closed to make sure your dog cannot see flashes of fiery lightning. Avoid taking your dog to places where you know there is a risk of fireworks or firecrackers; choose a walk at a time that is safe.
- Stay calm and don’t get mad with your dog.
It is important that you stay calm and follow your routine. If you start doing something different than usual, it will probably make your dog even more concerned. For example, if you are moving forward or going back to the window to check what is going on, it is likely to attract the attention of the dog who will also want to see what is going on outside. Simply try to act as normal as possible with your dog. Your pet will recognize your concerns and may conclude that you are also afraid of the noise being heard outside. Even if your dog panics or does something like digging behind a sofa, don’t get angry with him or ignore him. He acts like that because he is scared and being angry with him is simply counterproductive.
- Help your dog cope with the problem.
You need to help your dog find a way to deal with noise. The best way to do this is to give him a ‘safe haven’. It can be any space in which your dog can hide, which will give him a sense of security. Ideally, this space should be protected from sound as best as possible, and the space should be quite small so that your pet can feel more secure there. For example, it could be a cupboard under the stairs where you would put warm blankets and linens so the dog could “snuggle in”. It is best to present this place to the dog before fireworks or storm so that he or she can learn that it is a good, safe place. If you first introduce him to this place when your dog is scared, he may not use it – in which case don’t try to make him. There will be something to do on the next occasion. If your dog is using a hoop or hiding somewhere else, it is better not to approach him or try to take him out of it. They do what works best to deal with noise, and getting close to them can increase their anxiety, even resulting in aggression in some cases.