Treating Noise Anxiety in Dogs
Is your dog scared of loud noises? The first thing I tell all our clients is this: Don’t comfort the dog when it’s reacting!! Sounds strange, I know, but this is pretty much enforcing the behavior, and the dog learns to seek comfort from you when the loud noise occurs:
If you stroke, cradle or hug your dog while saying things like, ‘Oh poor baby, it’s OK, there’s nothing to be afraid of,’ the dog doesn’t understand your words, but he does understand that he is receiving a gentle, soothing reward by your actions and tone of voice. The dog then starts to believe it is doing the right thing by acting nervous because you are approving of it with the petting and rewards. To your dog, petting is a reward, so you’re reinforcing the anxious behavior. And for some dogs, being petted when they are already on a high anxiety state of mind will tip them to the edge.
Sometimes simply stopping the unintentional reward stops the fearful behavior. But if your dog still struggles with noise anxiety, here’s one little trick we use in training to help dogs overcome those fears in just a few days, and one that you can start at home today.
Dog Afraid of Thunder? Try This!
*If your dog is becoming destructive or in danger of harm, you NEED to get in touch with a professional who can help! Often the fear worsens over time, so it is really important to get your dog help early on to avoid the fear turning into a full-blown phobia. In the meantime, you can learn more about anxiety (and how to treat it) in this article: How To Manage Anxiety In Dogs
Enrique is owner / head trainer at DogWorx, a premier dog training and rehabilitation facility, located in Savannah, Ga, focusing on dog aggression, dog anxiety and behavioral modification. If your’e struggling with your dog, contact us — you are the person we want to help! Follow us on Facebook and YouTube for more videos and tips on how to train your dog at home.