K9 Storms and Noise Phobias

Posted: November 21, 2010 by at K9 Health & Fitness

Some dog owners dread New Year’s Eve, 4th of July celebrations and even summer thunderstorms. They know there will be loud noises and flashes of light, and they know their dog will be terrified.

What can you do if your dog is one of those who is scared of noises and thunderstorms? Whatever you do, don’t get angry or frustrated at your dog, and don’t ever yell at him or punish him. This can make things a whole lot worse.

Let’s look at some other options that are more helpful.

Firstly, consider medication. Sedating drugs such as Valium and Acepromazine can relax your dog so he doesn’t feel so stressed during a thunderstorm or fireworks. It’s only a short term solution and for some dogs, it doesn’t do the job well enough.

The next step is to desensitize him. This is basically reprogramming your dog not to be frightened of loud noises. Train your dog to settle on a mat with food and rewards. When a storm or fireworks display occurs, you can then ask him to settle, and give him treats. This can often take his mind off the scary noises, and reduce their impact.

While desensitization is happening, your vet may prescribe a behavior modifying drug such as Prozac for your dog. This makes him learn new behaviors quicker and be less anxious as he is trained.

One of the most important parts of caring for a dog with a noise phobia is restraint. He must be kept safe – ideally keep him inside your home and don’t let him outside until the noise show is over. If you dog must stay outside, make sure your fence is secure, or tie him up securely in a sheltered area. A dog crate is perfect for this. Keep in mind that dogs can injure themselves as they scrabble to get away from the noise.

In Summary – Desensitization is a slow process, and you won’t see results overnight. There is also no 100% guarantee it will work with your dog. You may need to just medicate him when you expect loud noises and light shows, and crate him to keep him safe. Having said that, it’s definitely worth trying, because if it works, those summer thunderstorms or occasions to celebrate will be a lot less stressful for everyone.