Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks & Other Loud Sounds?
Many dogs are fearful of loud sounds. Then again, there are dogs that don’t seem to mind the noise. For those dogs that are fearful, however, noise can be extremely stressful. It can impact how you interact with your dog and where you can bring them.
Sensitivity Vs. a Phobia
Dogs are commonly afraid of things like thunder and fireworks. These trigger your dog’s fear. Their noise faculties are just far more sensitive than ours. They are so sensitive, in fact, that your dog’s ears can detect changes in barometric pressure. They know a storm is coming before you do. So, if your dog tends to be fearful, you’ll want to check the weather daily for possible storms. With that foreknowledge, there are things you can do to prepare your home and pet before the thunder begins.
However, there’s a difference between noise sensitivity and noise phobia. A dog with a sensitivity may show some discomfort, while a dog with a noise phobia may be incapacitated. According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, “Noise phobia is an excessive fear of a sound that results in the dog attempting to avoid or escape from the sound. It’s an irrational, intense, and persistent fear response that can develop at any age and in any dog breed.”
There are some things you can do that we’ll cover below, but dogs with noise phobia will likely need some veterinary assistance. There is no cure for noise phobia. All you can do is attempt to mitigate the symptoms. If your dog’s noise phobia is new, then you should see your vet as soon as possible. A sudden change in behavior could be indicative of something more serious.
Symptoms of Anxiety from Noise in Dogs
Is your dog acting strange when fireworks are going off in your neighborhood or perhaps there’s a storm coming through? Here are some symptoms that your dog may be suffering from noise anxiety or noise phobia:
- Wild, wide eyes
- Excessive drooling and panting
- Excessive thirst
- Tail tucked between legs
- Accidents in the house
- Trying to run away while on a leash or in the yard
- Chewing and scratching
- Barking, whining (unusual sounds)
- Refusing to move from one place
- Ears pushed back
- Staying close to their caregiver
While some of these behaviors are not destructive or harmful, some can be. A dog trying to escape their crate can become cut or hurt, a bolting dog may run into a street, and your dog may become dehydrated if they don’t drink while stressed.
Common Causes of Noise that Scares Dogs
Dogs can become triggered by many sounds, but here are common noises you will want to avoid if your dog is exhibiting symptoms of noise phobia:
- TV sounds
- Parties of people
- Fire alarms
- Beeping sounds and alarms
- Dogs barking, whining
For some dogs, their fear comes from a traumatic place while others have a genetic predisposition.
How to Calm Your Dog
The first thing to remember is that coddling your dog during an anxiety episode may exacerbate the issue. Dogs will do what works to get the attention they crave. So, when they exhibit noise anxiety symptoms and you give them extra attention, they learn that their behavior yields a reward. Therefore, don’t coddle your dog during this time. Instead, follow one of the approaches below:
Move Your Dog
If your dog doesn’t like the noise, move them to a safer, quieter place. This can be a crate, bathroom, or internal room of the house away from windows and outside walls. You can cover their crate with a blanket, play quiet calming music to drown out outside noise, and leave them alone for a bit.
Use a Pressure Wrap
Pressure wraps, or thunder vests, work wonders on some dogs. The dog feels more comforted while wearing the garment. If you don’t want to buy one, you can make one out of an old t-shirt and tie it around your dog. It might not work the first time, so be sure to use it a few times before calling it quits.
Consult with Your Vet
Dogs truly suffering from noise phobia may have a greater anxiety disorder that requires professional help. Your vet can do things like prescribe behavior modification, medications, or other supplements to support your dog’s emotional and mental health.