Why is my dog afraid of loud noises?Dogs have a privileged hearing that allows them to recognize a large number of sounds, even at considerable distances. This adaptive capacity was essential for the survival of the species, allowing it to avoid exposing itself to threats and predators, in addition to being more successful in its hunting. Therefore, it is perfectly natural for a dog to startle from loud or violent noises , and want to hide or flee to preserve its well-being. It is an adaptive response of the organism.
Wondering why your dog is afraid of loud noises? You have come to the right place! In this article from Animal Expert, we will explain the main causes of this canine behavior and how you can calm a scared dog and how to remove fear.
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- My dog is afraid of loud noises, why?
- How to remove the dog’s fear of loud noises?
- How to reassure a dog scared by loud noises?
- Natural remedies to calm a dog
My dog is afraid of loud noises, why?
The hearing dogs are more sensitive than humans and can capture an impressive range of frequencies and vibrations. It is natural that your dog is very alert when he is outdoors and perceives numerous novel sounds for him (these sounds that will often be imperceptible to us). It is also absolutely normal for you to feel fear when perceiving unknown or violent disturbances in your environment, such as rockets, car noise, screaming, fighting or thunder.
Its survival instinct makes the dog try to flee or hide when faced with an unknown stimulus that threatens its physical and psychological well-being ; however, it can also react or remain motionless. If we do not spend time socializing the puppy with the different noises in its environment (between the 3rd and 12th week), it is very likely that he will react negatively and be very scared of various loud or unknown noises throughout his life. .
If your dog had a negative experience or was exposed to fearful noises for a long time, it may have developed trauma or a phobia . In both cases, the animal will be able to associate the sound with certain objects, people, animals or environments, and show fear even when the sound is not present, but the “noisy source” can. Some dogs, for example, can hide just from seeing the vacuum cleaner or the dryer, by associating these utensils with their loud sound.
In addition, we must bear in mind that some pathologies that affect their sensory functions or progressive hearing loss , also favor the development of phobias and trauma. Therefore, it is essential to consult the vet if you notice that your dog is very fearful, shy, aggressive or is isolated very frequently.
A dog with a history of physical and emotional abuse can be very fearful when faced with a wide variety of stimuli. His insecurity is so strong that he does not show exploratory behavior (curiosity about the environment) and he would never even consider facing an unknown situation. In fact, violence and negative environments are among the leading causes of trauma among animals.
If you adopted a puppy or adult dog, you should be especially vigilant if your partner is constantly nervous or fearful. Dogs that have been isolated from all kinds of stimuli and / or social coexistence can develop the so-called “sensory deprivation syndrome” .
Finally, we must mention that fear can appear as a behavioral pattern that can also be genetically inherited . In other words, a puppy may have a greater predisposition to fear or greater sensitivity to loud noises due to having inherited this characteristic from its parents.
How to remove the dog’s fear of loud noises?
Before any of the causes listed above, it is essential that you go to an ethologist veterinarian to rule out pathological causes or deficiencies in the senses that may be causing these behaviors related to fear. This type of vet will also be able to guide you in the face of a behavior problem, providing you with a diagnosis and guidelines to follow .
If you do not find this professional figure, you can go first to a vet and then to a dog educator . To improve the evaluation, we recommend asking yourself the following questions: “What loud noises make your dog jump?” “Does your fear appear when you see some objects that make noise or only when you hear the noises?” “Does he startle only when he hears certain noises or is he afraid of various unknown stimuli?” All this will help the professional to recognize if your dog has a fear, a phobia or trauma and will help you to work properly.
Treatment for dogs with fear
Dogs with trauma or fear are generally able to overcome their insecurity after systematic desensitization . In this process, we try to gradually get our dog used to the fear-inducing sound of controlled exposure and rewarding desirable behaviors with the use of positive reinforcement . It is important to highlight that the behavior modification sessions must be carried out by a specialist who is familiar with these methods, if not, it is easy for fear to increase and even turn into phobia if the dog is used improperly.
Treatment for dogs with phobia
However, a phobia diagnosis is much more difficult to treat, requires more time and may not have a definitive cure. Pharmacology may even be necessary to improve the well-being of the dog . In any case, you can help your dog calm down in contexts of fear or anxiety, use alternative therapies to improve its quality of life and offer it a sense of calm, in addition to avoiding exposing it to stressful situations that involve the objects and sounds they provoke. negative feelings.
How to reassure a dog scared by loud noises?
Now you know what is the methodology that professionals use to remove fear of dogs from rockets or any other stimulus. However, while you wait for the visit of the canine educator, we offer you a series of tips that you can use when it comes to knowing how to calm a dog scared by rockets, screaming or, in short, any of the loud noises that scare it .
How to act before a dog with fear of noise?
Many owners feel the urge to pet and hug the dog when it is noticeably upset, however by doing so they are reinforcing their upset attitude and encouraging the dog to repeat negative behavior that also affects their well-being.
On the contrary, if the dog is very scared but remains calm and relaxed, we can pet him and reward him to improve his emotional state. The important thing is that you maintain a calm attitude and act normally in these situations of fear or stress. Remember that emotions are not reinforced, what can be reinforced is calm or anxious behavior.
Tips for a dog frightened by noise
Take note of the tips that we propose, but remember that without behavior modification sessions it is impossible to permanently remove the fear of dogs:
- Avoid leaving your dog alonein noisy environments or on dates when fireworks are expected (such as New Years Eve, for example). Being alone, the dog will feel even more insecure and will be able to carry out destructive behaviors at home.
- Reduce noise intensity byclosing windows and doors to reduce the intensity with which noise enters the home from the outside. Also, you can put some relaxing dog music on louder than usual, and try to distract your dog with some long-lasting toy, such as the kong, a gnawing bone, or intelligence toys.
- Try to create a “shelter”: Dogs feel more protected when they can take refuge in a quiet place by hearing loud or strange sounds. You can use a pet carrier, a dog house or just a cardboard box to comfort your dog with his own “cave”. Remember to locate the shelter away from windows and doors (where the noise enters with more intensity) and leave inside your dog’s favorite toy.
- Reward their good behavior: every time your dog is brave and / or behaves well in his “refuge”, remember to reward him with a treat that he likes very much, petting and a cheerful voice. In this way, we encourage our dog to associate the presence of a strange noise with a positive situation.
- Consider using pheromones : Synthetic pheromones (DAPs) are compounds that mimic the natural pheromones that bitches produce during lactation. Its action lowers anxiety levels and helps restore a calm state in the dog’s body. You can find several brands and presentations of DAP, but it is important that you consult your trusted vet to choose one that has studies that support its effectiveness.
- Pharmacology Use: Anxiolytics and other dog pain relievers act directly on your nervous system. They can be recommended by the veterinarian after the diagnosis of a delicate and complex psychological disorder, generally to prevent the nervous reaction from further damaging the animal’s health. We must remember that painkillers should not be offered to any dog without proper medical guidance. Also, remember to avoid drugs that contain acepromazine and bet on those that have positive scientific studies that support them, such as SILEO.
Natural remedies to calm a dog
- Herbs: chamomile, valerian and St. John’s wort are herbs with good calming action on the body of humans and dogs. You can make a chamomile infusion, let it cool and mix with your dog’s water. St. John’s wort and valerian can also be found in the form of tinctures. You can offer a few drops of tincture, depending on their weight, directly in your furry’s mouth for a faster effect.
- Oats: Oatmeal is very effective to provide a sense of calm and reduce anxiety of a dog. It is true that many dogs do not accept eating in situations of fear or nervousness, but you can try offering 1 to 2 tablespoons of oats cooked in water to your furry to help him calm down.
- Alternative therapies: aromatherapy, Bach flowers, homeopathy, and acupuncture are highly recommended to improve quality of life and help alleviate the tension in dogs suffering from phobias, stress, or other psychological disorders.