It’s summer and it’s time to head outside! But while you’re enjoying picnics, recreation and colorful fireworks displays, your dog may be miserably trying to escape the onslaught of loud, painful noises that accompany our summer activities. Noise phobias can be a debilitating and even dangerous condition for many dogs.
According to Behaviorists, these phobias can have a variety of causes:
• lack of early socialization
• negative experience
A dog’s fears and phobias may lead to signs and body language such as:
• destructive behavior
• loss of control over bladder or bowels
Fear vs Phobia
Fear is the instinctual feeling of apprehension resulting from a situation, person, or object presenting an external threat — whether real or perceived. The response of the autonomic nervous system prepares the body for the freeze, fight, or flight syndrome. It is considered to be a normal behavior, essential for adaptation and survival; its context determines whether the fear response is normal, or abnormal and inappropriate. Most abnormal reactions are learned and can be unlearned with gradual exposure. Moreover, the persistent and excessive fear of a specific stimulus is referred to as a phobia. It is a persistent and excessive fear of a specific stimulus, such as a thunderstorm. It has been suggested that once a phobic event has been experienced, any event associated with it, or the memory of it, is sufficient enough to generate a response.
Types of Sounds Fears/Phobias
1. Fear of Thunder. Astraphobia is a fear of thunder, and it is a very common phobia in dogs. The degree of this fear can differ between dogs. Some may just have a mild fear of thunder. In this case, a dog may tremble slightly or you may notice flattened ears and a tucked tail during a thunderstorm. Other dogs may have a more severe phobia which leads them to hide, become destructive, or lose control of their bowels or bladder.
Dogs may also be able to sense a thunderstorm coming well before you are able to detect it. This is the reason so many dog owners report seeing their dogs exhibit signs of fear several minutes or longer before the storm actually hits.
2. Fear of Fireworks. A fear of fireworks is another common dog phobia. Similar to a fear of thunderstorms, the loud and unpredictable sounds and light displays of fireworks make many dogs tremble in fear. For some dogs, slowly getting them used to the sound of fireworks can eliminate the phobia. In other cases, you may need to use management techniques. Dogs with a severe fireworks phobia may need to be treated with an anti-anxiety medication or sedatives.
3. Fear of Objects. Many dogs develop a fear of particular objects that make noise- the vacuum cleaner, blow dryer, even the sound of blinds rolling up/down, microwave, lawn mower, etc. In some cases, this type of fear can simply be dealt with through management by removing the dog when vacuuming, bringing the dog in the house when you mow, etc. In certain cases, however, it can be problematic. Some dogs are so fearful that all these everyday household sounds send them in an anxious state. For instance while out on a walk, a car backfires and sends your dog into a panic state and you can’t finish your walk.
Don’t miss next month’s blog where will discuss various training solutions to help your dog overcome his or her sound sensitivity.
Or, better yet, if you are in the Chino area on June 18th from 5:30-6:30 pm come to our FREE Behavioral Clinic where our certified trainers will discuss a variety of methods for reducing your four-legged friend’s panic attacks. Location: It’s A Dog’s World/Vinjon’s Kennel 3890 Walnut Ave. Chino 91710