Behavior Mod.

Is Your Dog Afraid of Loud Noises?

Is Your Dog Afraid of Loud Noises? If so, then this article is for you. Some dogs get startled, run around, go hide, or continuously bark or whine when they hear something loud. This could be from only one type, or all loud noises such as a firecracker, a gunshot, construction or power tools, engine or horn sounds, and many other noises. We had a Collie when I was young who would run in terror and hide if someone just struck a match!

Many times such behavior depends on the environment the dog grew up in. If your dog originally came from a quiet place, then he may be easily startled by loud noises. It could also be similar for dogs that grew up in shelters or kept in small places and not trained in socialization skills. And for city dogs who deal with noise and traffic every day, they might get so used to such sounds that they totally ignore them.

Is Your Dog Afraid of Loud Noises?

But for the dogs who fear loud noises, then following are some ways to get your dog used to them:

  • Habituation– tjos means getting the dog used to the noise. When your dog hears a sound over and over again, it will simply get tired of it and lose interest, the same as when he plays with the same toys or eat the same kind of food at every meal. Getting your dog used to such noises can help lessen his stress and stimuli. If your dog is afraid of car horns, for example, expose him on city traffic and eventually, he will learn to cope with the noise and think of it as not harmful or not interesting to him. And with this, he will not get startled by the noise anymore. In fact, most dogs that live in urban areas know how to distinguish sounds that directly matter to them, such as the sound of a can of dog food being opened!
  • Desensitization– means training your dog to not pay attention to the noise. This means that you should help your dog to get over the fear of the noise or sound. If he is afraid of various sounds like fireworks or the sound of rolling thunder, try recording the sound and having him listen to it at low levels, then gradually increasing it as the dog learns to get used to it, but in a gentle way, not by force.
  • Counterconditioning– this means getting the dog to  actually like the noises! This is usually done by bringing in doggy treats whenever the noise is heard. For example, dogs used for hunting are usually trained with gun shots. Whenever they hear these shots, then it’s time for lunch or dinner and this kind of training will get them to actually like the noise instead of fearing it.
  • Don’t do this: don’t comfort the dog when it’s reacting!! Sounds strange, I know, but this will re-enforce the behavior, and the dog learns to seek comfort from you when the loud noise occurs.
  • Spontaneous Recoveryit means the dog has to be treated for setbacks. There may be times that the dog tends to go back to his old fear habits, so you might want to go over the above tips when it does. But don’t worry, setbacks are not really common, and your dog’s fear will usually wear off as time goes by.

If you’re considering medication, it can also make matters worse. Medications are typically sedatives, and may make the dog more frightened by not allowing him to physically react the way his brain is telling him to.

However, there are some homeopathic remedies that have been successful, according to an article on the WebVet.com website:

Instead of prescribed drugs, Brooks touts herbal remedies, including lavender oil, geranium oil, chamomile, peppermint extract and a product called D.A.P. — dog appeasing pheromone — that can help to relax dogs.

So if the answer to the question “Is Your Dog Afraid of Loud Noises?” is yes, then you should have success in curing the problem by using one or more of the above tips.

Do you have a dog that used to be afraid of loud noises? Did you do something special to help the dog get over it? If so, please tell us what it was below.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Anna Monteil

    Apr 26, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    My German shepherd is afraid of jets… And we live by an air base so she is in an almost constant state of terrified. What should we do? (We’re not moving…)

  2. kimber

    Jun 7, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Hi, Well I have a German Shorthair Pointer! He is so afraid of noises. When he is hunting the shots to do not seem to bother him as I suppose he is so focused on the birds. He is a winer does not bark but wines. His mother was the same way. My husband took him out hunting to early I think. Not sure why he is terrified of sounds. That is what I think. Maybe that did it. anyways I would like to know how to help him! He is a wonderful dog but this is an issue. Any help would be VERY APPRECIATED!!

  3. Patricia Wood

    Jun 1, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    My shitzu used to run and climb on my head when she heard thunder even before I heard it. Way in the distance she could hear it coming. Then it got so gunshots upset her in the same way probably because I felt sorry for her and babied her. This was my solution. When I hear first thunder or she starts reacting because she hears it in the distance and sun is still shining we go for a walk. so she was out before a storm actually hit. In this case she had to walk home but walking is her favorite thing in the world.. Sometimes we got caught in the rain sometimes not but she has gotten so much better. If it’s at night ( and she wakes me by sitting on my head )we still go outside and either walk up and down driveway or sit on the deck for a bit..The problem got so bad I wouldn’t leave the house for family events etc.If Sophie couldn’t go. Now if I could concur the fear of gunshots. We bought a new home in December and guess where the town Rod & Gun club is. Yep on the country road that runs behind our house.Thursday evenings and Saturdays/Sundays aren’t much fun at our house but I’m trying to ignore her which hasn’t been easy nor working. May have to change my hairdresser day to Monday lol
    Thanks for the tips
    Pat

  4. Sherri

    May 22, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    My dog is a rescue that I got when he was 9 months old. His behavior was great until New Year’s fireworks. At that point he had just turned 16 months old. Since then, when he hears thunder, air planes, and other noises that sound like thunder or fireworks, he shakes, paces, continuously looks up, and tries to climb up on everything. It’s like he can’t get high enough. I’m working with his trainer on this, and we are trying to figure out how to help him overcome this fear of noises. I’ve tried a natural sedative, homeopet, which calms him somewhat and also the thundershirt. I’ve tried some desensitizing noises I downloaded, but he doesn’t react to them. I’ve tried distracting him with toys and/or treats, but he won’t have any of it. I’ve taken him to the vet and ruled out any health issues. Any suggestions? I love him and I’m not giving up on him. I will work on this for as long as it takes. He is a wonderful, friendly dog and I want to help him live a wonderful life.

  5. Leigh

    Mar 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    My border collie reacts to more than just the sound of thunder; it’s the low pressure, lightening flashes, and vibration too. How do you propose to simulate all of that? And, I prefer to not use food for training purposes because all of my dogs need to keep their weight in check. What other rewards can you suggest?

  6. Jan Henry

    Mar 1, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I can relate to the other commentors. We have a Maltese/poodle mix who is a senior and has been afraid of many things throughout his life. He came to us with a security blanket that he sucks on when he gets stressed. I’ve tried the thunder shirt, using his kennel, some of the natural remedies mentioned above, making the tv loud on the 4th of July New Years Eve, as I am cursing the neighbors with all of their illegal fireworks that force me to close all windows and blinds….Nothing seems to work except to give him a sedative and put him in the bedroom where he can’t see or hear anything. He is even afraid of the coffee pot (which I replaced thinking a newer one would be more quiet). Not so…he even sees us go to it and he starts freaking out so I have to set the timer to make the coffee before he wakes up in the morning. The other night the smoke alarm battery needed to be replaced and was beeping. I had to change a battery at 3 am to settle him down. (he shakes violently, tries to climb up on us and tries to paw at our heads or faces, pants to the point that at times he looks as though he could have a heart attack. He hates it when we have company and most always has to be put in the bedroom. So I honestly am not concerned about a Veterinarian dispensed sedative for those times that he is really upset. It saves everyone from a bunch of stress. The things we do for our critters, huh?

  7. Shelley

    Mar 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    My dog is afraid of the beeping from smoke detectors and similar sounds. Thunderstorms make another one of my dogs shake and want to hide.
    I have one that doesn’t like it when the neighbors dog barks or sirens from fire trucks. He will start howling and then the other 2 join in and I have a dog chorus.
    We haven’t been real concerned because most of these issues are temporary. The one that is annoying for us is the dog that hates the electronic beeping because she will try hiding on anything – including climbing on furniture.

    • Danny

      Sep 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm

      I have the same issue! Exept for my smaller 3-4 puppy she isn’t scared of noise at all.

  8. Sandy

    Jul 1, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Buddy is so scared of loud noises that he literally shakes like he is on a vibrator, and he tries to hide! We have tried everything. He really suffers on the 4th of July – New Years etc. I have seen his tongue turn almost black – we feel so bad for him!

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