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We often think that humans are beset by unreasonable phobias but many times – our pets also have fears that when left untreated, can cause serious injury to themselves and their surroundings. One such form of dog anxiety is noise phobia – a condition that often manifests itself during storms.
The reasons why dogs are afraid of thunderstorms have not been accurately determined yet. Some say that it is because of the electric charge in the atmosphere, the drop in barometric pressure, or simply because like humans – the dark and loud sounds are scary. Whatever it is, this particular fear is rather common among dogs and have worried many of their owners.
Dogs and thunderstorms generally do not go well together. Canines with a mild case of noise phobia exhibit nervous energy, tremble excessively, or hide in corners during the time of the storm. You can help ease their anxiety by taking them to a spot that they seem to be the calmest at. It may be an open crate or a bath tub. Train him to head there whenever he is afraid and reward him when he does.
Pets that are severely affected by thunderstorms or loud noises like gunshots, extremely loud engines or fireworks, should be watched very carefully. Many owners verify that their noise phobic pets have not only destroyed furniture and things; but have also badly hurt themselves in the process. Some have clawed through hard wall and dug through the carpets until they were bleeding.
There are two basic methods of behavior modification that experts employ in treating noise phobia in canines. One is desensitization. Desensitization is when the fearful noise is introduced to the dog very faintly at first, and increasing the intensity little by little until he is unafraid anymore. Make sure that when you try this, begin softly and as you progress, always keep it below the fear producing decibel your dog recognizes.
The other method to cure dog anxiety is by counter conditioning. This technique is implemented by allowing the dog to enjoy something he likes while the source of fear is gradually increased. For instance, simulate the sound of thunder subtly; as the noise is amplified gradually, give the dog his favorite doggie treats. If he begins to get overly agitated, do not continue. We do not want the dog to associate the treats with his phobia.
If the abovementioned behavior modification practices do not work, natural, homeopathic treatments like Melatonin and Phosphorous 30C, can be tried. These have been known to significantly improve noise phobia in canines. Inquire about the dosage in relation to the breed and size of your pet, and follow it carefully.
This has been a common source of frustration to pet owners through the years. Studies of dogs and thunderstorms continue to be developed in the hope of an eventual remedy to be found. In the meantime, do what you know to do and have regular visits to the veterinarian for any changes in behavior.