We all remember the times when we were children, hiding under our covers or running into our parents beds when a storm was lashing just outside our windows. We remember being frightened by the loud noises, never knowing when it was going to come next. As we grew up we learned about storms and learned to not be afraid of them. Sudden loud sounds like gunshots, fireworks, and sirens may still startle us but we can cope with them.
Dogs cannot do that. However smart your dog may be and however brave it is, it is common knowledge that most dogs are afraid of sirens, gunshots, and other noises. Dogs’ ears hear so much more acutely than a humans that they can hear a storm before it comes and they can hear sounds from up to four times as far away as a human. Their range of hearing can go up to 60,000 Hz.. All of this means that if a noise is loud to us, it is much louder to a dog. Environmental noises like thunderclaps can set most dogs into a panic. This article will give you some tips on how to ease your dogs’ fears of unknown and loud noises.
There are two schools of thought:
- Too much affection will affirm your dog’s fears
- Leaving your dog alone will compound the fears
You know your dog better than anyone so you can decide which tips to try, and which to ignore.
- Show your dog that he is safe by giving him lots of attention when he wants it. A dogs’ memory does not work the same way that a persons does, if you leave a dog unattended during a traumatic experience like during a fireworks display or a thunderstorm your dog will think that he has to fend for himself. For some dogs this means accepting the sound and realising that it means them no harm, but for a very scared dog this could mean retreating into itself and working itself into a panic. Let your dog know that you are there as your presence will do a great deal to calm him down.
- Slowly desensitize your dog to environmental noises by playing them repeatedly at increasing volumes. Get your dog into a familiar and safe environment and then play the sounds at a low volume. Every time he gets up and leaves calmly and gently bring him back. Continue this until your dog becomes accustomed to the loud sounds, than slightly increase the volume.
- A dog frightened by a scared dog can result in a logistical nightmare. Dogs have a very short window between fright and anger, and if the dog senses that it’s in trouble it can quickly become violent. There has been many a case of a dog scared by loud noises or environmental noises attacking itself or its owners in an effort to run away. Bringing around more frightened dogs can only make matters worse.
Whether you have a dog scared of garbage trucks, a dog afraid of thunder or a dog frightened by gunshots you have to remember to love it and do your best to keep it calm.