As July Fourth approaches and thunderstorms are bound to hit, many pet owners need help with their dog’s noise phobia. Among our pooches, this is a common problem that can cause them to hide, try to escape, vocalize, pant, pace, tremble and even have an "accident" indoors. Behaviors will often vary, but once a phobia of loud noises has been recognized, environmental and behavioral changes or drugs and pheromones can help to reduce or eliminate this fear. 

As July Fourth approaches and thunderstorms are bound to hit, many pet owners need help with their dog’s noise phobia. Among our pooches, this is a common problem that can cause them to hide, try to escape, vocalize, pant, pace, tremble and even have an “accident” indoors. Behaviors will often vary, but once a phobia of loud noises has been recognized, environmental and behavioral changes or drugs and pheromones can help to reduce or eliminate this fear.    Behavioral modification means retraining the dog to reduce his or her fear of storms and it can often involve diverting your pet’s attention. You could do this by playing audio tapes to gradually train the dog to accept the sounds associated with thunder or by engaging in activities such as fetch or sit and stay. Rewarding the dog’s appropriate response with petting or soothing can reinforce that negative behavior and can increase the dog’s anxiety.     You could also consider changing the dog’s environment. For this method, your dog can be placed in a darkened, windowless room with music or white noise playing. If you do this, it is important to still keep an eye on the dog to ensure he doesn’t unintentionally do harm to himself because of his anxiousness.   Additionally, certain drugs, depending on the dog’s age and health, can help anxious pets. It is best to consult your veterinarian to learn which choice is the best fit. Some options include anti-anxiety medications as well as Pheromones, which are chemicals produced in small amounts that only a particular species can detect but that have a calming effect on the dog.   With the right combination of therapies, this frustrating phobia can be managed. Of course, it is best to talk about this concern with your veterinarian, who will be familiar with your dog’s specific health and history.  

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!