Anxiety, fear and panic are common in dogs that suffer from noise phobias such as fireworks and thunderstorms. Dogs have a more acute sense of hearing than humans so it is no wonder that the sudden loud noise from thunder or pop and scream of fireworks would cause real suffering for noise sensitive dogs.
Signs of Distress
Vocalization- whining, barking, howling
How to Help a Dog With Noise Phobias
The most important thing for dogs suffering from noise phobias is to remove them from the source as much as possible. That means keeping them indoors. It is not uncommon to hear of dogs panicking and escaping from yards during thunderstorms or fireworks.
What helps one dog may not work with another. Some have found counter-conditioning and desensitization to the triggers of the dog’s fear help. Playing a recording of the sounds of thunder or fireworks on low and gradually increasing the volume over time can help some dogs.
Offering a tasty treat during a storm or fireworks to distract might work with some dogs. However, a dog that is in a panic state or shaking is not going to be interested in even his favorite treat. A dog with mild anxiety might delight in a food puzzle such as a Kong.
Studies have shown that dogs value the social support of their owners. Dogs judge how we react to a threat as to the degree of danger. If we can provide a calming presence it helps our stressed dogs relax a bit. Dog behaviorists encourage doing whatever helps your dog.
For other dogs a quiet corner or crate provides more comfort. If you have a dog that prefers to hide when feeling anxious, create a quiet zone where he can feel safe. Playing white noise or music to cancel the scary noise often benefits these dogs.
Pressure wraps such as the Thundershirt or anxiety wrap have provided comfort for some dogs. The snug-fitting shirt targets various pressure points on the body similar to swaddling a baby.
In severe cases, medication might be of benefit. Tranquilizers such as ACE (acepromazine) do nothing to alleviate the fear or anxiety. There are drugs like Sileo which inhibit the development of fear and anxiety by blocking norepinephrine release resulting in a calming effect without sedation.