Because of the increase in outdoor activity, summer often means more noise, which can become stressful for your dog. Whether you’re on vacation or hanging at home, here are some signs of stress to look for and a few ways to help your dog feel more comfortable.
Identifying Fear of Noises
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms around loud noises it is likely that they are afraid and stressed: trembling, barking, shaking, growling, and/or whimpering.
Helping Your Dog
Find a place where your dog feels safe, such as a spot away from the windows where sound and bright flashes are less noticeable. In general, staying near and remaining calm is a great technique. You can also try distracting your dog by bringing out toys or something to chew on. Playing some white noise can help cancel out the loud sounds outside, too. Other dogs may find continuous pressure soothing. Without petting your dog, try applying a constant but gentle pressure to your pup.
Actions That Won’t Help
Avoid punishing your dog for their negative reaction to the noise. Fear is a natural reaction and punishment may make your dog even more stressed and scared. Don’t force your dog out of his/her hiding place. This is where your dog feels most secure and trying to take him or her away from safety may trigger an aggressive response.
If you know that your dog is scared of loud noises, you can work to prevent negative reactions in the future through desensitization and counter-conditioning. To desensitize your dog, play a recording of a thunderstorm, or of another loud noise, at a low level that does not trigger any anxiety. Over time in different sessions, slowly increase the volume of the recording. Counter-conditioning is another technique that involves rewarding your dog when he or she does not react negatively to a loud noise.
If your dog does not show improvement from a combination of desensitization and counter-conditioning, you may want to talk about anxiety medication with your vet.