Fireworks and thunder are two types of noises that can make life miserable for noise-phobic dogs (and cats) and the people they share their lives with. Fear and anxiety behaviors in response to loud noises are more common in dogs, and typically increase and worsen with age.
Common signs seen with noise phobias include:
- Shaking, trembling
- Excessive drooling
- Barking, howling
- Trying to hide or get into / out of the house, fence, or other enclosure
- Dogs have jumped through glass windows in an effort to "escape" the noise
- Refusing to eat food
- Some animals may loose bladder or bowel control or experience temporary diarrhea from prolonged stress
Dogs with noise phobias often experience separation anxiety as well.
This is a serious problem for many dogs, with many potential side effects for health and well-being. If your dog exhibits any of these behaviors, please visit your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical problems and discuss ways to manage the stress and anxiety from noise and/or separation.
Long Term Management
In addition to these managing loud noise phobia tips, a proven long-term management tool is desensitization. This is a process of gentle and gradual exposure to the sound(s) that the pet is afraid of. As the pet becomes accustomed to the sound at low levels, the intensity is increased. If, at any time, the pet becomes stressed, the sound level should be reduced until the pet no longer reacts, gradually working back up.
The Victoria Stilwell Positively™ Canine Noise Phobia Series, part of the Through A Dog's Ear music previously reviewed on this site, offers three different soundscape desensitization CDs; thunder, fireworks, and city noises. Each CD includes a booklet describing noise phobias, tips for managing, and how to use the CD for desensitization.
The programs offer a music intro, 3 separate (building) levels of intensity, and a final music only (calming).
I listened to the following three CDs. Here are my notes about the sounds.
- Several types of fireworks: whistling, pops, bangs and longer exploding fireworks
- Rolling thunder, very loud thunder cracks and rain sounds
- Kids playing
- People talking
- Jackhammers and construction sounds
- Beeping for reverse
- Loud diesel truck motor
- Shoes/walking sounds
- Dog barking and whining
- Cars driving, loud brakes
Desensitization takes time and patience, but a dog who sleeps through the next thunderstorm or handles a day in the city calmly makes it well worth the effort. This method of training works well with all other noise phobia coping tips and is a great add-on method for keeping your dog calm during loud noise events.
The Victoria Stilwell Positively™ Canine Noise Phobia Series CDs are available on the Through A Dog's Ear web site and select pet retailers.
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