Potential Causes of a Fear of Noises
When a dog fears noise he or she can respond to this fear in a number of different ways. The dog may begin to shake and tremble, the dog may bark excessively, the dog may hide and refuse to come out, and in some cases the dog may urinate in the home out of extreme fear. A sudden loud noise can frighten even the most secure and happy dog, but a continual fear of noises can decrease the quality of life that a dog is able to experience. There are a number of reasons why a dog may have developed a fear of noise, and here are some of the most common causes of this fear.
Some dogs were raised in an extremely quiet environment or in an environment with little to no outer stimulation. A dog which has lived with a quiet elderly couple in the country, for example, may have trouble adjusting to life in the city. Noises that a dog did not experience growing up can cause anxiety and extreme fear. In some cases dogs that were kept in kennels for long periods of time develop a fear of noise; while kennels are generally loud places, they are often absent of any other stimulation. A dog that has lived a long time in a kennel type situation may become over stimulated in new environments, and as a result develop a fear of any type of new sound.
Other dogs develop a fear of noise because they associate noise with bad things. For example, if a dog lived with people who argued loudly or fought a lot they could easily develop a fear of noise; if a dog had a bad experience during a thunder and lightening storm, then loud noises after that experience could cause anxiety and fear. There are a number of different scenarios that could cause a dog to associate fear with something bad; the key to addressing this fear is to help the dog realize that noise is no longer a threat.
The first step to helping your dog overcome a fear of noise is to gradually expose your dog to noise. This exposure can include leaving the T.V. on during the day for your dog when you are not home, or keeping a CD on a repeat play. When you begin this step, keep the volume turned down low. Try to choose ‘soft’ noise such as a nature program on the T.V., or a meditative or classical musical CD.
Over time gradually increase the volume level, and change the noise program. Start leaving the radio on a soft rock station, or pick a news channel on the T.V. When you begin to make this switch keep the volume low again, and then gradually increase the volume.
When you are home and your dog has a reaction to fear, this is your chance to help your dog. Try to calm your dog down, let your dog know that everything is okay, and try to distract your dog from the sound. You may want to start playing a favorite game with your dog, or take your dog out for a walk. Try not to console your dog too much when he or she has a reaction to a loud noise; too much sympathy can cause your dog to associate the fear reaction with a reward of attention. Instead distract your dog from the noise, and overtime your dog will begin to pay less attention to noises.