Most dogs experience fear when exposed to loud or unusual noise. These noises that scare dogs may include thunder, fireworks, garbage trucks and others. For a scared dog, this anxiety often shows through emotional stress and unusual physical reactions. Some dog anxiety behaviors may be repetitive barking, extensive chewing, and property destruction, which may cause harm to your home and family. The worst thing that a scared pup could do is become aggressive to anything and anyone around him. Thus, these anxiety behaviors should be stopped. To help you with that, here are several ways on how to overcome noise anxiety.
In rehabilitating a dog or puppy to overcome his noise anxiety, you should always perceive the most positive outcome and believe that it would come around. It is best to always be calm and assertive when treating dogs with anxiety. These tips below would help you rehabilitate your Fido to overcome its anxiety:
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1. Avoid physical punishment or aversive techniques. Approach the treatment with calm energy and leadership. Never show any signs of frustration to the pup.
2. Slowly desensitize the dog and help him to progressively become in-control and focus on a single object or action when the noise that scares him arises. Start with a weak version of the stimulus and gradually increase its level in a period of time.
a) For a dog scared of fireworks – Fireworks are common in seasonal celebrations. Dogs are often surprised and fearful of these explosions. To make the dog desensitized to fireworks, present little displays or animated fireworks in giving him praise and rewards whenever he present good behavior. This will help him associate fireworks to calmness, good behavior and rewards.
b) For a dog scared of thunder, and other unusual sounds – Playing recorded sounds while making him focus on other objects or other actions would make him stay in-control while hearing those sounds. Try to make him focus on doing tricks and avoid giving attention to the sounds. Try to increase the volume little by little and praise him when he shows calm reactions and good behaviors or if he does not care about it at all.
3. Find out what environment or mode your dog feels most relaxed. Use this calm environment as his safe place where he could come to when he feels scared. It could be an alternative when you are still practicing the desensitization process. Also, create a calm environment whenever the scared dog is around and always stay calm and relaxed. Constantly project a pack leader aura and have a fixed routine that establishes control. Having a greater certainty reduces stress and anxiety in dogs.
4. Use calming equipment or calming medication when needed. Calming equipment are products designed to help calm your dog. These contain Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) which synthetically produces a hormone also produced by nursing mother dogs. This hormone helps puppies feel calm and secure. You can also have calming music to play whenever your dog is feeling anxious. Do not resort to calming medication until the desensitization process finishes and the medication is suggested by the veterinarian.
Melatonin has been found to be helpful with dogs who have “thunderstorm-phobia” other noise-related reactions and other stressful situations. The dose: 3mg for a 35-100 lb dog, while smaller dogs get 1.5 mg, and larger dogs may get 6mg. Given either at first evidence of thunderstorm -- dog becomes agitated, distant rumbling of thunder, etc. or prophylactically before the owner leaves the house when thunderstorms are predicted. Dose can be repeated up to 3 times daily. The latter may be used as a dose for animals with more generalized stress related disorders.”
5. Lastly, always be patient when treating a scared dog. Repetition helps bring about positive results. Do not be frustrated and do not forget to be calm.