Have you heard of dog noise anxiety? Even if you have not heard it named this, you may have seen your poor dog fleeing for the nearest shelter at first sight of cloud or sound of thunder.
My dog, Macky, can often be a tough one to track down – with one exception. At the first crackle of thunder or lightning, I always knew exactly where to find Macky: nervously trembling and panting under the bed. A sad sight!
I tried to reassure her or pet her, but none of it seemed to relax her. Instead, her fear of storms seemed to be getting worse over time, and I'd heard that as dogs got older and started to lose their hearing, it could get worse still. The simple association of dark clouds in the sky could sometimes cause Macky to "bolt" under the bed.
Macky was confronting the serious problem of dog noise anxiety from thunderstorms. Many dogs react this way not just to thunderstorms, but other loud noises, like the reports of fireworks, vacuum cleaners, alarms and sirens. Wild animals hide from the noise, with the security of finding hide-outs, such as caves or burrows. But the dogs at home are limited and can not escape the noise. Some dogs can be especially affected by years of past experience.
It is fortunate that there are steps that can be taken, not to eliminate the noise of course, but to actually ease your dog's storm anxiety in a natural and safe way.
There will be no doubt in your mind when your dog has noise anxiety. Your dog may hide, shaking violently, bark and cower at the same time be destructive chewing the door to escape the security screen. "We have also heard of dogs that are so afraid," said Kat Hout, PHD in Veterinary Medicine, "that they jump through a window and then can be hit by cars." Noise anxiety, then, is a real problem demanding real solutions .
Before beginning the treatment of your dog, there are two steps to avoid these errors, that aggravate the situation. The first is "never scold or punish your dog for anxiety," Dr. Hout said, "because this will increase their anxiety." Remember your poor pooch is afraid and should not be yelled at for what he can not control.
Secondly, trying to pet or cuddle your dog might just reinforce the behavior. Although your dog needs lots of love, in this situation it can be a sign that you like this behavior and want the dog to persist with it – in this case, his anxiety, which we're trying to cure. Even though it might be tough to resist this impulse, finding the real cure is better for your dog in the end.
One step is to take your dog to the vet. Sensitivity to noise may be due to various medical conditions. Unfortunately, vets may too often provide drugs for the problem, such as Clomicalm. These drugs can come with all sorts of side effects which you should research before leaving your dog in their influence – and they also come with a high price tag. An alternative is certainly desirable, so let's explore some like I did for Macky.
Some online retailers have started selling specialized "dog anxiety shirts." They claim to help dog anxiety in two main ways:
1. Offers a gentle physical sensation that distracts the from focusing on their storm anxiety, and
2. The shirt's equal pressure gives your dog a sustained sense of security and comfort.
Shortly after introducing one, your dog should relax as mine did. Many dogs can then handle the storms and weather conditions with little or no noise more symptoms of anxiety. At the very least, it's safer and cheaper to try than using drugs.
Whatever method you use, however, the key to any noise anxiety relief is that it's never too early to start. "Do not wait until June's Thunderstorm Season," said Benway. Begin in January. For something like the thundershirt, this means simply acquainting your dog with the sensation before hand.
After trying these methods, your dog's anxiety may finally be cured, and you can sit together on the couch and ride out the storm in peace.