If your pet suffers from noise phobia, you probably cringe every time thunderstorms are forecast. Instead of celebrating the Fourth of July, you probably dread this firecracker-filled holiday.
Dogs in particular, with their keen sense of hearing, often suffer from noise phobia and their frightened behavior can be stressful for their owners as well. As if your pet’s trembling and barking weren’t bad enough, you probably have to deal with the dirty looks of your neighbors who have to endure Fido’s barking, whining, and howling when a truck backfires or a thunderstorm develops. You may also find your home destroyed by his neurotic reaction – chewed furniture, dirtied carpeting, and shredded tissues.
Both cats and dogs may become nervous and desperately try to escape under the couch or hide anyplace where they feel they can seek refuge. Dogs may try to soothe themselves by chewing on household items or even on themselves. Cats may scratch anything available, including your sofa or wallpaper. If your pet’s extremely nervous, he may even vomit or suffer from diarrhea. So don’t jump to the conclusion that your pet is simply being spiteful when you return home to find the house in disarray. It may be that he was traumatized by noise. If you four-footed best friend occasionally causes such destruction when left alone, think about it. What was the weather like during your absence? Check with you neighbors to see if they heard anything unusual (i.e. firecrackers, a car backfiring) while you were gone. Don’t blame your pet for being spiteful – he just might be suffering from noise phobia.
PREVENTING THE PROBLEM
If you’re the owner of a new puppy or kitten, it’s up to you to prepare your pet for the noises in our human world. The best method of noise training is to gradually introduce your young pet to unexpected noise. He might be surprised if you clap together two pieces of wood, but if it’s followed by a great deal of praise and a short play period, he’ll become more confident and be less apprehensive the next time he hears this sound.
After your pet reacts calmly to the noise of the wood, gradually increase the noise level by hitting the wood harder until no visible signs of fear are noticed. He’s now ready to graduate to the clanging of pots and pans. Here, again, start at a low level, then gradually progress to a louder level until you don’t see any reaction. This exercise is not as time-consuming as you might think. After all, banging pots and pans is easy when you’re in the kitchen preparing meals.
By properly exposing your pet at a young age, normal fears that could create a neurotic or even psychotic animal may be avoided. Owners of puppies should also incorporate trips to the park, to shopping centers, and to schoolyards into their pet’s socialization program. This early socialization will help build your pet’s confidence.
RESOLVING NOISE PHOBIAS
If your pet already suffers from noise phobia, know that this problem can be resolved – and without the use of tranquilizers. Tranquilizers simply mask the problem instead of correcting it. And remember, you may not always be there to administer them when a sudden storm (or any noise) occurs.
Instead, turn your radio on at a reasonably high volume (without disturbing your neighbors). This constant noise level during a thunderstorm (or any noise) will help drown out the sound, thus calming your pet. If you must be away from home and thunderstorms are predicted, be sure to leave your radio on when you leave the house.
If you’re home during a storm (or any other noise), soothe and reassure your pet when he’s frightened or divert his attention by playing his favorite game. Don’t go overboard with the attention, though. After all, you won’t always be able to be around to soothe him. It’s best to act reassuring yet behave as if nothing is wrong. And don’t act anxious – our pets are quick to pick up on our own anxieties!
If you have a particularly nervous pet, use a recording of a thunderstorm or fire works (or whatever noise sets him off) to desensitize him. Sound effects records and tapes are available at most larger record stores or online. Start off by playing the recording at a low volume. Once your pet shows no reaction to the recording, you may gradually increase the volume. Play it every day at this volume until he shows no visible reaction. Again, increase the volume and follow the same procedure. Continue to do this each day, until you’re playing the recordings at full volume and your pet is paying absolutely no attention to the sound.
The key to relieving your pet’s sensitivity to outside noises is to do it very gradually. Don’t rush, for if you do, you may seriously traumatize him and create a much worse neurosis. Through patience and consistency you can overcome your pet’s anxiety. It may take several weeks or even months, but isn’t being able to alleviate your pet’s suffering worth it?
Warren Eckstein, host of The Pet Show, is an internationally known pet and animal expert. Warren has devoted over thirty years to teaching both pets and their people to live happily together through his unique “Hugs and Kisses” approach to animal behavior, care and training.
Warren has worked with more than 40,000 pets including those of many well-known celebrities. David Letterman, Cheryl Tiegs, Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Ferraro, Al Pacino, Rodney Dangerfield, and Phylicia Rashad are just a few of many whom Warren has helped with pet problems.
Halo is proud to work together with The Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s leading advocacy organization for animals, to help ALL animals!
You mark your stuff by putting your name on it; your dog marks their with urine. We’ve covered why dogs mark territory, now here’s how to prevent urine-marking behaviors before they happen in your house.
Before doing anything else, take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for the urine-marking behavior. If they get a clean bill of health, use the following tips to make sure they don’t start marking their territory.
Spay (or neuter) first
Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. The longer a dog goes before neutering, the more difficult it will be to train them not to mark in the house. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.
But if they ha been marking for a long time, a pattern may already be established. Because it has become a learned behavior, spaying or neutering alone won’t solve the problem. Use techniques for housetraining an adult dog to modify your dog’s marking behavior.
- Clean soiled areas thoroughly with a cleaner specifically designed to eliminate urine odor. Read more about removing pet odors and stains
- Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive. If this isn’t possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your pet. Feed, treat, and play with your pet in the areas where they mark.
- Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach. Items such as guests’ belongings and new purchases should be placed in a closet or cabinet.
- Resolve conflicts between animals in your home. If you’ve added a new cat or new dog to your family, follow our tip sheets to help them live in harmony.
- Restrict your dog’s access to doors and windows so they can’t observe animals outside. If this isn’t possible, discourage the presence of other animals near your house.
- Make friends. If your pet is marking in response to a new resident in your home (such as a roommate or spouse), have the new resident make friends with your pet by feeding, grooming, and playing with your pet. If you have a new baby, make sure good things happen to your pet when the baby is around.
- Watch your dog when they are indoors for signs that they are thinking about urinating. When they begin to urinate, interrupt them with a loud noise and take them outside. If they urinate outside, praise them and give them a treat.
- When you’re unable to watch them, confine your dog (a crate or small room where they ha never marked) or tether them to you with a leash.
- Have your dog obey at least one command (such as “sit”) before you give them dinner, put on their leash to go for a walk, or throw them a toy.
- If your dog is marking out of anxiety, talk to your vet about medicating them with a short course of anti-anxiety medication. This will calm them down and make behavior modification more effective.
- Consult an animal behaviorist for help with resolving the marking issues.
What not to do
Don’t punish your pet after the fact. Punishment administered even a minute after the event is ineffective because your pet won’t understand why they are being punished.
If you come home and find that your dog has urinated on all kinds of things, just clean up the mess. Don’t take them over to the spots and yell and rub their nose in them. They won’t associate the punishment with something they may have done hours ago, leading to confusion and possibly fear.
BRAVO Bad Rap! Thank you for always being the voice and heart of reason, compassion and justice! So love that you consistently lead the way…. excellent piece!
BAD RAP Blog
Great article! Everyone should read it. I am proud to call Farah a friend and my family is proud to call a Vafa dog a member of our pack. I pray that Trump's executive order is found unconstitutional by the higher courts as it helps no one and impacts so many in such a negative way.
BAD RAP Blog
Thanks, once again, BADRAP for reminding us that civil rights strongly parallel and affect animal rights. You know you have always been my heroes, and were once the only voice of reason ringing in the wilderness for me battling it out in the late 90s advocating for our dogs. So many people have chanhed their opinions of Blocky Headed Dogs. In no small part, to you. I don't know what I would have done without you. Great blog post! I have quite a few Pitbull loving Iranian friends whom I'll share your message with.
BAD RAP Blog