By Dr. Andrew Jones
Dog noise anxiety, or fear of loud noises, such as fear of thunderstorms or fireworks, is very common. Pets have especially sensitive hearing. Veterinarians have estimated that your dog can hear 10 times better than you can. The loud crack of thunder is terrifying to many dogs. In some cases, the loud noise has been associated with an unpleasant experience. My family dog Max had his tail slammed in a door by the wind during a thunderstorm; any subsequent storm produced a hiding, shaking Max. This article will reveal the most effective holistic ways to quickly stop your dog’s anxiety.
Most of us are aware of the signs and symptoms of a dog with noise anxiety. Your pet changes her personality in response to noise, especially thunderstorms. She may cry and whine, hide in the basement, begin to chew anything in the house or run away. Some dogs become destructive, and many a house has been damaged during a thunderstorm or fireworks. Other dogs may just tremble, pant excessively, or constantly whine or bark.
For long term success, effort must be put into training your dog to be less anxious in addition to anti-anxiety supplements. Do not positively reinforce the fearful behavior by being too kind. The next time that Lewis reacts to noise, give him a quick scratch then go about your normal household routine. If you act calm, then he may act calm.
The next time that your pet begins to act nervous, distract her with a favorite squeaky toy or tasty treat. You are teaching your pet to associate noise with a positive experience. When your pet acts less nervous, then give her lots of praise, then next storm could become far more pleasant.
A very simple, safe home remedy is milk. It contains a natural chemical called tryptophan which tells the brain to relax. Some pets may get diarrhea, so begin with a small amount (1/4 cup) at first. Increase this to 1/2 cup of warm milk given to your anxious Labrador when the fireworks start.
Many dogs tend to be less fearful in a small confined space, such as a crate. Crates act like a den in nature, making your pet feel safer and more protected. This does not work for all dogs, as some may hurt themselves in an effort to get out of the crate. Try to crate train your dog before a storm, then stay close by to let him out if things do not go so well.
A type of therapeutic touch, called Tellington Touch has helped many pets with noise anxiety. The most effective area is the ear. Gently hold the ear flap between your thumb and forefinger. Gently stroke from the base of the ear to the ear tip; repeat the motion several times covering different sections of the ear. Use the same fingers to draw tiny circles at the base of the ear. Try both of the techniques on your dog when he is calm. If he reacts well, then try it the next time a storm approaches.
Valerian is a herb that acts on the neuroreceptors in the brain. It may decrease anxiety in your pet, but it must be given for 2 weeks. The dose is 50 mg per lb of the dried herb or 1 drop per lb of body weight twice daily of the extract.
A Shirt wrapped around your dog can help. One product called Thundershirt claims that the gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or over-excited. The pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system. Using pressure to relieve anxiety has been a common practice for years. You can make your own “Thundershirt’ by using a small shirt that is wrapped tightly around your dog’s chest and over his back.
You should now have a good understanding of dog anxiety, including why so many dogs react to loud noises, such as thunderstorms and fireworks. Now you can recognize the common signs of noise anxiety in your dog; trembling, vocalizing, trying to hide, and chewing. I encourage you to consider some of the above remedies the next time your dog reacts to the loud noises, helping to calm him naturally at home.
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