Fear and anxiety in response to noise is one of the most common behavioural concerns in dogs. Approximately 50% of dogs react fearfully to some type of sound.1 Fireworks and thunder are well recognised as causes of noise anxiety however studies have shown other causes such as sudden unexpected noises, loud traffic, home DIY noises and shouting to be significant.
Typical signs of noise anxiety include: panting, vocalisation (barking or whining), lip-licking, hiding, yawning, cowering, trembling, restlessness, brow furrowed and ears back, refusing to eat and owner clinginess.
It is important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible because noise anxiety can worsen over time and could lead to the development of other behavioural problems.
Some tips that may help in the close run up to a noise event include very importantly ensuring your dog has a safe place where he or she can hide, where they can feel secure, such as behind the sofa, under the stairs or a den to hide in. On the evening of the party, fireworks, thunderstorm etc, it is advisable to feed your dog early, and go on a walk to allow them to empty their bowels before the noise event to minimise the risk of exposure to loud noises outside. Then playing music or white noise during the event can help to mask the noise. Importantly try to remain calm during the event and never punish or reward anxious behaviour.
Medication is available to help your dog overcome noisy events such as Bonfire Night however a more sustainable outcome may require behavioural therapy over a number of months.
1. Blackwell EJ, et. al. (2013) Fear responses to noises in domestic dogs: Prevalence, risk factors and co-occurrence with other fear related behaviour.