Is your fur-child terrified of loud noises? We’ll tell you something… they are not far and few. Whether it’s the unavoidable thunderstorm, scheduled town fireworks displays (or the occasionally bored teenagers), doorbell rings, or text-message dings, your poor pupper is probably screaming, “WHAT DA HECK?!” on the inside. It’s too bad they can’t talk, right?
Oh, but they can. When dogs bark, whine or beg, it’s their way of telling us they need something or are feeling something. Just like a newborn baby, we have to figure out what that is and address it. For many dogs, loud noises can be triggering and send them into a panic. But this isn’t one of those posts where we give you band-aid “solutions.” This is your opportunity to trash your CBD treats, thunder coats, and doggy earmuffs, because… you can help them fight the fear!
Here are a few steps you can take to help your pack member self-soothe and stop the cycle of associating bad things with loud noises:
- Set them up with a “safe space,” if they don’t already have one. A spacious crate with a bed/blanket and some of their favorite toys would be our best recommendation. Alternatively, any of their favorite spaces in your home would work as well, as long as they know that’s the chill spot!
- Distract them if you can anticipate the loud noises. If you know there will be a nearby fireworks display, or if you know a storm is brewing, you have a paw up to distract your fur-child from the scary noises. You can try a white-noise machine, playing some music, or broach them with a game of tug-o-war or fetch. The key here is to make sure their attention won’t be on the noise.
- Train them to disassociate. Your pupper will likely enjoy this tactic, as training always involves treats. In the off-time when you know there won’t be any surprise loud noises, work with them to start introducing those unpleasant sounds at a very low volume. Reward them with a treat for staying calm. Gradually increase the volume and repeat the process. However, if they start to get agitated or anxious, take a break and try again the next day. This may take a while for fluffy to get used to, so stay consistent!
If you’ve exhausted all of these efforts, it’s best that you consult your trusted vet. There are special circumstances, such as owning a rescue dog that may have experienced extreme trauma, that would require veterinary intervention. If necessary, circumstances like these may be best resolved by seeking professional help and a veterinarian prescribing medication(s).