Be Sensitive to Noise Phobias

Protect your pup from loud and sudden sounds as fear responses, noise phobias and acute stress are no laughing matter and could be an indicator of more serious issues.

| July 2019

Photo from Adobe Stock/kozorog

Many dog guardians know that certain sounds send their canine companion into a tizzy fit. Some of the common culprits are fireworks, gun sounds, and thunder. Indeed, studies suggest that nearly half, and perhaps as many as three-fourths, of all family dogs are afraid of certain noises and will show at least one behavioral sign of fear when exposed to them. These behavioral signs include trembling, shaking, panting, salivating, hiding, and peeing or pooping in the house. These fear responses are often called noise phobias, particularly when the fear is related to a specific stimulus (such as a thunderstorm) and when the behavioral response is extreme, such as scratching through a wooden door trying to escape.

Photo from Adobe Stock/Rodney

People may chuckle when they pop Bubble Wrap and their dog trembles in fright, but noise phobias are no laughing matter. The trembling is a sign of acute stress, and stress, as we know, is bad for your health. When people get genuinely scared, they sometimes joke that it “just took a year off my life!” Well, there is some truth to this, and we should take these fears seriously. Our dogs deserve it.

To help reduce the chance that noise phobias will develop, we can avoid exposing puppies to frightening sounds, and we can socialize puppies to a wide variety of sounds. There’s some evidence that early exposure to a frightening sound increases the risk of developing a related phobia, so as much as possible, protect puppies from sudden or loud noises. Then, some people also find that gradual desensitization to a scary sound can help prevent phobias and, in some cases, help a dog move past their fears. As part of their puppy socialization classes, the Humane Society of Boulder Valley (Colorado) includes a gradual exposure to the sound of fireworks. A very soft recording of fireworks popping is played in the background while the puppies are given a constant stream of treats and praise. Each week the volume is increased just a bit. The puppies don’t even notice the fireworks because they are so interested in getting treats and playing with the other puppies.

Despite these efforts, dogs may still develop aversions to certain sounds, and we must do our best to protect our friends from them. In addition, noise sensitivity can be an indicator of pain, so when dogs show fear or anxiety with loud noises, a visit to the veterinarian may be in order. In extreme cases, dogs with noise phobias may need to see a behavioral specialist. Prescription medications may help relieve anxiety in some dogs, and they could be used prophylactically in situations where people cannot control the source of a noise, such as thunderstorms and July Fourth fireworks.

Subscribe today and save 58%

Get the latest on Healthy Living and Natural Beauty!

Mother Earth LivingRedefine beauty and embrace holistic living with Mother Earth Living by your side. Each issue  provides you with easy, hands-on ways to connect your life with the natural world -- from eating seasonally to culinary and medicinal uses of herbs; from aromatherapy and DIY cosmetics to yoga and beyond. Start your journey to holistic living today and you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter