Noise Fears In Dogs

Prevalence of fear responses to noises ('noise phobias') in dogs

Our recent research at the University of Bristol suggests that fear of loud noises are very common in the dog population. The research looked at both the numbers of dogs which owners thought were fearful when they heard loud noises. It also separately asked owners if their dog showed specific behavioural signs that are known to be associated with fear or anxiety, such as trembling / shaking, barking, salivating or hiding. This revealed a considerable gap between owners who thought their dog was fearful (25%), and the almost half (49%) which were showing behavioural signs of fear.

Read more: Fear Responses to Noises ('Noise Phobias') in Dogs - Overview

Many owners seek help for fear responses to noises ('noise phobias') in dogs when this response is extreme and / or impacts on their lifestyle. Some dogs show fear responses which are quite obvious: inside the house this might include pulling all the contents of a cupboard out and clambering inside, hiding under the bed, running from room to room, trembling, shaking or toileting. Noises encountered outside can result in dogs running away from their owners in panic, potentially across roads or into other dangerous situations. Owners are more likely to seek help with their dog if they see these more extreme behaviours.

However, like most 'behaviour problems' there are many instances where dogs are worried by loud noises, but show more subtle signs. In these cases, owners may not recognize there is a problem.

Read more: Signs and Development of Noise Fears ('Noise Phobias') In Dogs

There are two aspects to dealing with dogs which are fearful of loud noises:

  1. What to do NOW to help mitigate your dog's noise fears, if it is fireworks night or there is a thunderstorm coming
  2. What to do to treat your dog's noise fears in the long term

1. Mitigating your dog's noise fears if loud noises are imminent

The key things to do if your dog is worried by noises are to:

Read more: What Do I Do If My Dog is Frightened of Loud Noises?

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