For dogs scared of loud noises, summer can be a frightening season. Thunderstorms abound by day. The ‘pop-pop-pop’ of fireworks can startle us at night.
Why are dogs scared of loud noises?
All these loud and unpredictable noises may be tough for your dog to take. If the sounds of the season make your pet skittish, they are not alone — many dogs get fearful, anxious, and unsettled during fireworks, storms, and in the moments leading up to a storm’s arrival.
There are simple strategies — some done in advance, and some enacted when the storm strikes — that can help quell your dog’s fears and allow them to endure the noises with relative ease.
1. Swaddle Your Dog
For dogs scared of loud noises, some dogs may benefit from feeling snuggled in a blanket or from wearing a swaddle-like garment. One popular choice is the Thundershirt, which provides a calming pressure on your dog’s body. Or try a calming collar, which is also aimed at soothing pets in tense moments. Whatever garment you choose, putting it on as the storm approaches and your dog’s anxiety heightens can help ease your dog’s storm-related stress especially if they’re dogs scared of loud noises.
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2. Have a Safe Comfort Zone in Your Home
Whether it’s a crate, your bathtub, or under the bed, your dog may already gravitate toward a safe, comforting spot in your home. If so, allow your dog that comfort during a storm’s buildup, or when the fireworks boom. Just keep in mind that this is meant to help your dog, so if your dog dislikes their crate or whines when stuck in small places, ignore this advice. Make sure to keep the crate and any room doors open so that if you pet does become uncomfortable, it’s easy for them to run and hide.
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3. Cover Up the Noises
Consider using a white noise machine, playing music, or going into a remote area of your home like the basement, far from outside noises, to help obscure the sounds of thunder or fireworks. Even turning on the TV or the radio can help to distract dogs scared of loud noises.
4. Distract, Distract, Distract
Just as you might look away when you’re getting a shot, distractions can help take your dog’s mind off of the loud noises. Try playing games indoors — tug of war or tossing around stuffed animals or soft balls could be all the distraction your dog needs from the storm.
5. Get Dogs Accustomed to Loud Noises
This won’t work day-of, but you can try planning ahead and slowly getting your dogs desensitized to loud noises. Try playing the sounds of thunder and firecrackers at a low volume, while providing your dog with positive reinforcement in the form of cuddles and treats. Over the course of days or weeks, gradually raise the volume slightly, being certain to stop playing the track when your dog becomes anxious. With exposure, it’s possible that your dog will become accustomed to the noise and realize that nothing scary or threatening will occur.
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Tell us: Does your dog get skittish from loud noises? Share your tips in the comments! And don’t forget that all pets can benefit from PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.