Signs That You Need to Seek Help for Your Dog’s Noise Issues.
Some or all of the frequent behaviors found in sound-sensitive dogs are shown by your dog, and they endure the length of the noise event.
Your dog has learned to forecast the arrival of a storm and starts displaying worrying behavior far before you are aware that a storm is approaching.
Because she anticipates a thunderstorm, your dog begins to respond to indications like rain or a gloomy sky. (In certain circumstances, even when the weather is nice, dogs will refuse to go outdoors because they are afraid of a storm.)
After a storm or loud sounds, your dog may need up to thirty minutes to recuperate.
Your dog begins to respond to sounds that are not the same as the one she was initially afraid of.
What’s the first step?
The easiest method to avoid your dog developing noise sensitivity is to expose her to a range of noises while she is young. Even if you adopted an older dog, you can still do this. You should expose your dog to a range of noises at first, at a low volume, and make sure that these exposures are enjoyable for him.
When you’re out on a stroll and you hear sirens, offer your dog goodies. Play a game your dog loves, like fetch or tug of war, whenever it rains or thunders. Additionally, during storms, you can always offer your dog a special, really tasty treat so she identifies the sounds with something enjoyable. Imagine getting a chocolate cake and a $1,000 cheque every time it rained.
In inclement weather, you’d be ecstatic to answer the door. You can get your puppies to like playing in the rain if you give them the correct incentives.
Another option to safely introduce your dog to different sounds is to get a CD with various noises and play them at low volumes while playing with her or giving her goodies (see “Behavior Modification Using a Noise Recording”).
Dr. Daniel Mills of Lincoln University conducted another research to investigate whether employing noise recordings in combination with dog-appeasing pheromones (see Chapter 5) may help people overcome their fears. The ultimate result: Dogs’ fear of fireworks was reduced when they were exposed to noise recordings of the frightening stimuli in a precise order.
The owners stated that their pets were still doing well a year after the trial ended.
Dr. Sharon Crowell-Davis, a veterinary behaviorist, and colleagues investigated if noise recordings, in combination with medicine, may assist dogs that were afraid of thunderstorms. Once again, the data showed that these therapies helped the canines overcome their fear of storms.
Noise Recording as a Tool for Behavior Modification
- Create a peaceful, pleasant environment for the dog.
Make a safe sanctuary for yourself. This may be as simple as a towel blanket dog bed that the dog identifies with only pleasant, relaxing activities like massage, quiet obedience training, and so forth. Counterconditioning is the process of training a new reaction. Spray this region with dog-appeasing pheromones like Adaptil if the owner wishes (Ceva Animal Health). As part of the desensitization and counterconditioning process, the owner should construct this safe haven well in advance of actually using it.
- Goal: At a low volume, expose the dog to the sound she is sensitive to, such that the only response you detect is a faint orienting response or very minor indicators of fear that go away after ten to thirty seconds.
To simulate a more realistic occurrence, use a CD player with speakers that are raised and spaced apart. Play it at the lowest volume that produces either no sustained reaction (which may be impossible) or a very brief orienting or fear response. To keep her anxiety or terror levels low, the dog should be in her safe haven before you begin.
- Goal: Associate the low-level noise with something nice to influence the dog’s perspective of what that noise represents.
Start feeding the dog high-value goodies while the noise recording is playing. Give rewards all the time if it’s raining or winding. If there are fireworks or thunder, it would be best to wait until after the big boom before giving a reward. Other ways of desensitization and counterconditioning include employing games as a reward, such as playing ball or tug if the dog is motivated in this way. If your dog enjoys working, have her do sits, downs, and other exercises while the noise recordings are being recorded.
- Objective: Gradually raise the loudness to make the incident more lifelike.
Technique: Once the dog shows no signs of anxiety or fear at a low level and is willing to engage in another activity (food, games, commands) and has body postures that indicate she is not anxious or fearful, the volume on the recording should be increased and the dog gave ten to thirty seconds to habituate to the increased volume before attempting to engage the dog by giving treats, doing a calm sit, down, or stay exercise, etc. The level of the recording should be raised as the owner progresses through training, depending on the particular dog’s behavioral growth until loud noises can be properly played.
- Objective: Incorporate more aspects to make the event more lifelike.
After the dog has been used to loud noises, additional stimuli linked with that noise event might be connected with it at low levels.
Someone could spray water on a window to simulate rain striking a window, for example, to simulate a storm.
According to the author’s research, these strategies are most effective when CD training starts at least two months before “noise season” and is done up to eight times per week.
(From the BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine, 2nd Edition, BSAVA.)
Putting your dog in circumstances where she will be blasted with powerful sounds before she is equipped to deal with them is part of introducing your dog to noises safely. Take your young dog to a rock concert or a fireworks show, for example. The noises should not be continuous or very loud, since this might be distressing. Because sound sensitivity may be hereditary, inquire whether the parents have ever shown sound sensitivities when buying a dog from a breeder.