It’s very natural for dogs to be afraid of loud noises -their sense of hearing is two times more stronger than ours. Dogs can also sense the chemical change in the atmosphere when a storm comes due to barometric pressure changes. Thunderstorms, fireworks and other frightful sounds can cause them to feel anxious or afraid and this can be very stressful - both for the pet and the owner. Certain breeds are more likely to be sensitive to such sounds, and age may also be a factor.
Thankfully, there are ways that you can help your puppy or dog with noise anxiety. Here are our top tips to help get you started, with a little help from Dr Harry.
Loud noises are frightening because they are unfamiliar to your dog. Normalise the sound by recording and playing it back throughout the day – two to three times a day should do the trick! Start with the sound down low and increase the noise level as your dog gets used to hearing it regularly. Dr Harry says that this can take 6 to 8 weeks, so you will need to be patient!
By providing access to your dog’s favourite hiding spot, you’ll be giving them a sense of safety and security. If your dog doesn’t already have a favourite hiding spot, create a dark, calm, cosy, inviting place they can retreat to to get away from the noise. Consider adding their favourite toy or an item of your clothing to give them added familiarity.
Mask the scary sounds with noises your dog is used to, such as running the washing machine or playing music. Be sure to not make these noises too loud - just enough to drown out the unfamiliar and frightening sounds.
Distracting your dog with something that usually gets their attention can go a long way to reducing stress and anxiety. Play with them, do a training session or give them a bone – the distraction may be enough to provide relief. If you are home, encourage a positive association and distraction by giving your dog or puppy a treat immediately after each thunder clap or fireworks boom.
As hard as it may be, it is important to keep calm. Remember that your behaviour affects and influences how your dog feels. By staying cool, calm and collected, you will naturally be more reassuring to your furry friend.
Where possible to plan ahead, take your dog for a long walk before any scheduled fireworks or before the predicted thunderstorm. This way, your dog will have plenty of time to go to the toilet, walk off some built up energy and relax. Don’t risk taking your dog outside during fireworks or a thunderstorm - the noise could cause even more stress. If your dog is scared, they could run off and get themselves into a sticky situation. This may mean an expensive visit to the vet.
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