It’s Sunday. You are enjoying the bright sunny day, playing frisbee with your little canine on your house lawn giving him the quality time he is always asking for. Suddenly your smoke alarm starts giving a chirp of low battery. You gotta go inside to silence it and continue your game. But wait where is the little Santa buddy?
In the bathtub……Oh No, not again!
If you frequently find your dog traumatized by the smoke detector, it indicates that your dog can be noise phobic. Noise phobia is an anxiety problem in certain dogs.
The author of “Canine behavior; A guide for veterinarians” Boonie Beever states in the book that up to 20% of dogs belonging to all ages and breeds suffer from a severe noise phobia.
But worry not! We have come up with a dedicated article to solve all your concerns. In this article, we will be looking at what noise phobia is and how you can help your dog overcome it!
What is Noise Phobia in dogs and what does it look like?
Noise phobia is a fear of noise in dogs that turns into anxiety disorder over time. It is an irrational and intense fear response in certain dogs displaying puddles of panic. Your dog in some cases might undergo severe anxiety causing an extreme reaction that might be debilitating and making the dog frantic and overwhelmed.
Some apparent symptoms of the state can be excessive barking, urinating or defecating, diarrhea, vomiting, pacing, drooling, digging, panting heavily, and displaying whale eye. You may also observe stretched commissures and ears pulled back. The dog may also insist to be with you, or seek refuge in a bathtub. And to our dismay, the condition only worsens with each successive event.
You can also check: Dog Traumatized After fireworks
What kind of noises are most likely to cause anxiety?
It might not just be a smoke detector but any kind of loud noisy device or even natural noises in the surroundings can trigger the dog. Thunder, fireworks, beep of a microwave oven, or the whirl of the ceiling fan.
It can also be a loud truck, gunshot, people yelling, security alarms, or even sometimes many ordinary sounds. A dog might respond to a certain loud noise only and might be normal to others. So first of all, identify what particular noise is causing the problem!
Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, professor emeritus at Tufts university school of veterinary medicine and lead veterinarian at the center for Canine behavior studies in Salisbury says that about 50% of the dogs have signs of anxiety to certain sounds or situations. According to him, it has to do with the size, shape, and temperament of the dog.
The science behind the noise phobia
To detect a particular stimulus, living organisms have been given a sense that helps them perceive and process sensory input. This involuntary shift of attention to new, unexpected, or unpredictable events is called the Orienting response which is essentially a biological mechanism.
But the dog noise phobia must not be confused with orienting responses. The body’s fight or flight response to sudden or unexpected situations is natural and necessary for survival but on realizing no danger, the body naturally goes into a relaxed state produced by the parasympathetic system. However, in the case of noise phobia, the dog is not able to overcome the situation and it might undergo a prolonged distressing state of anxiety.
All dogs have an innate natural sensitivity to unexpected or loud noises but dogs with anxiety are more likely to develop noise phobia says Veternery neurologist Susan Wagner, teaching at Ohio state university veterinary college and the co-author of the book “Through a Dog’s ears; using sound to improve the health and behavior of your canine companion”.
First aid for a petrified dog
The most important thing to keep in mind in this regard is that you must not punish your dog for this behavior because he might associate the noise with punishment, and that can become a hurdle in the treatment. While some assumptions say that comforting the pet in such a condition can re-enforce the anxious behavior, it is good to know that it’s just a myth.
Some important short-term measures you should try are soundproofing a crate or a safe room, so the dog is much less exposed to such noises. There also comes prescription anxiety medication. We all know that such medications are merely sedatives so definitely they just give temporary relief.
Pheromones sprays and diffusers also help relax the dog. Music CDs and aromatherapy can also be effective. Storm defender cape is another option to go for as it helps nullify the charge buildup during the loud thunderstorm.
Dog Traumatized by Smoke Detector Solution
Desensitization is making the dog insensitive to the anxiety-causing noises by playing low volume or low-frequency versions of such noise to your dog. And then gradually increasing the volume till a stage comes when the dog senses them as normal sounds and stops responding to them with anxious behavior.
Counter-conditioning is teaching your dog to associate the noise with happiness or some positivity by giving him a treat or partying the time when such a noise sounds.
If a smoke alarm is causing the problem in your case, try to buy a smoke alarm with long battery life so that you can minimize the chances of such incidences to occur.
Though noise phobia can be a life-long problem with the dog, it can be treated or at least reduced by effective training. Such training might require weekly sessions for the life of the dog.