Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital
Unit 4, 2 Noonan Road
- 02 9829 1947
Fear of noises (such as thunderstorms and fireworks) is a common problem in dogs. Some dogs react with a mild fear response of panting and pacing; others get extremely agitated and may become destructive or panicked. A phobia exists where the fear is intense and produces an extreme reaction.
Noise Phobia can be treated
These pets are usually at risk of harming themselves or property when faced with a thunderstorm or fireworks display, especially if their owners are not home. Treatment is thus very important, not only to reduce the anxiety for your pet, but also to avoid injury and property damage. Well-meaning owners often try to calm their pet down - but giving a dog attention or affection in this situation effectively rewards and reinforces the bad behaviour and makes it more likely to happen again.
Other things that may help during a storm or fireworks display include:
Desensitization involves the introduction and gradual increase of the anxiety-causing stimuli in order to reduce the dog's stress response. The dog is trained to be calm when confronted with low-volume recordings of the source of the fear, which are then incrementally increased, allowing the dog to maintain a calm that can extend to a full, normal experience of the noise. Commercial CDs for the express purpose of dog noise desensitization are available. Counter conditioning, in contrast to desensitization, attempts to condition the fear stimulus with positive associations. Treats, a favorite toy, activity, or a place, are presented prior and following a thunderstorm, for example. With repeated reinforcement, the dog should eventually come to associate the noise with the positive experience and be undaunted by future occurrences. It’s not expensive but it does take time to achieve results. We can show you how to do this. Just make an appointment for a behavioral consultation.