How to Help a Dog with Noise Phobia

June 15, 2018

Pretty much all dogs run and hide when they hear fireworks, sirens, or other loud sounds they’re not used to. However, it’s important that you determine if the fear has turned into a phobia.

Some dogs jump at the slightest noise and cannot bear sounds that are even remotely loud. In this article, we are going to discuss what you need to know to help a dog with noise phobia.

The dog may get nervous and their heart may even speed up. This could have a lot of negative effects on their health over time, so it’s your responsibility to help your dog ovecome it.

 

Where Do Noise Phobias Come From?

Beagle with noise phobia standing on a bridge behind a man's legs

Although these phobias are almost always associated with noise as a consequence of trauma, according to the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, this is not always the case.

For noise phobia caused by trauma, they explain that it may just take something as simple as scaring a puppy with a loud noise. They may react unexpectedly and develop a phobia towards that noise, and towards others, for a lifetime.

Noise phobia can be fixed if caught in time. However, a delay in the matter can have serious consequences for the dog. Additionally, animals with noise phobias can get aggressive, destructive, and may run away.

Predicting Noise

Animals that have noise phobias are able to foresee when the noises they fear are about to happen.

According to an ethology study at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​“Thirty percent of dogs are able to anticipate the production of noises that they have phobias of in their environment. This causes them to express their anguish even before the noise occurs, and they try to flee to a place they consider as safe [translation].”

This is nothing new, as it is largely related to the reflex mechanism. It’s something that humans also benefit from and that helps us to act at the right moment just before something happens to us.

7 Steps to Helping a Dog with Noise Phobia

If your dog has noise phobia and you want to help them, you may want to follow the protocol that a veterinarian named Fatjó created for the purpose. It will help you create a safety zone in your house where they’ll feel calm and not want to flee.

Mixed-breed dog licking a person's hand
  • Fill out Dr. Fatjó’s questionnaire to determine if your dog has noise phobia or not. You can find it here.
  • Create a safety zone. It should be a dark place just big enough for your dog. They must feel protected so that they’ll go there whenever they hear the noise. By doing this, you can keep your pet from self-injury when they start running around like crazy.
  • Keep the entrance open. For example, for step 2 you could use the dog’s carrier, but it should always be accessible, open and free for them to enter at any time. One idea would be to cover it with a blanket so that the acoustics are reduced.
  • Find a quiet area. Look for the quietest place in the house to place your safety zone. You can also think about where they usually run to when they hear the noises, and put it there.
  • Keep calm. If your dog senses that you’re nervous because they’re nervous, this will make things much worse. Leave your dog alone and do not try to calm them down, because nerves could lead your dog to do something they don’t really want to do, like biting you.
  • Accompany your dog. You can accompany your dog by being close to them in the room where the safety zone is, just so they can tell you’re there. Talk soothingly to them.
  • Do not force your dog to go out. They know they can leave whenever they want, so give them time. When you feel relaxed and confident, so will they. Do not force it, because that will not help at all.

In Conclusion

So, this is what you can do for your dog if they have a noise phobia. Of course, it goes without saying that scaring your dog with noise “as a joke” make no sense in these cases. If you notice that it’s becoming harder to calm down your dog, or that the phobia is getting worse, take them to an animal psychologist.