While noise phobia can affect all dogs, there are certain breeds that seem to be more prone to this fear. Canine noise phobia can be a serious problem if it reaches the point wherein it causes harm to your pet or your property. Some dogs will squeeze themselves into tight spaces or jump fences just to escape the noise that is scaring them. In extreme cases, dogs have been reported to run through glass windows in a frantic effort to flee.
The causes of dog noise phobia are unidentified, and there are no known cures for this condition. However, you can still help your dog cope with his fear of noise through behavior modification.
One of the first things you should do is to give your pet a secure “hideout” that he can retreat to when there are loud noises, such as during a thunderstorm, a Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve celebration, and the like. This hideout, which can be a dog crate or an open closet, can help him feel safer and thereby curb some of his fear-driven responses to noisy sounds.
Changing your dog’s environment by closing windows or doors to tone down some of the noise may also work. Try turning on a fan or playing some music. Ordinary and soothing ambient sounds can help your pet calm down.
It is crucial that you do not encourage or reward your dog’s behavior during one of these episodes by paying too much attention to him. Act normally to let him know that everything is just fine, even with the noise. You may be tempted to comfort your pet, but doing so will only reinforce his belief that the noise is something to be afraid of. You should never punish your dog either, as this will only make him more anxious and aggravate the problem.
If your dog has severe reactions that are potentially dangerous, i.e. they can lead him to injure himself or damage your property, then you might want to ask your veterinarian about treatment options. Your vet can suggest some changes you can make in your home or prescribe some medication. You can also consult a pet behaviorist; these professionals make use of special techniques to help dogs with noise phobia.
Keep in mind that your dog especially needs your patience and understanding during this time. Don’t give up on him no matter how hopeless the situation appears to be!