TREATING NOISE PHOBIAS
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Manage the Environment
Environmental treatment can start out with some very basic environmental changes. We will out line suggestions below along with links to helplful products that can be purchased on the provided website links.
Simply bringing the pet indoors can help. Some dogs are fine as long as the owners are present and in the room with them. Some dogs will relax just being near their owner or lying alongside their owner. Close contact and body pressure is fine if it soothes the dog and helps him relax.
The dog should be rewarded with praise ONLY WHEN he shows relaxed behavior and postures. Inappropriate coddling, acting anxious yourself, or rewarding the dog for being fearful by telling them it is "OK" can be detrimental.
It is OK to comfort your dog with your presence or slow touch or massage, but be aware to not inadvertently reinforce fearful behavior. You don't need to ignore or shun your dog. You cannot reinforce or encourage fear with comforting. See which actions of yours lead to changes in your dog such as muscle relaxation or a deep sigh. Does your dog move closer to you, does your dog like to press against you and feel pressure from your body.? Try slow long strokes from the collar down the back or gentle massage. If these things increase arousal in your dog, stop! But if they lead to relaxation keep them up!
Animal Behaviorist, Patricia McConnell, PhD explains in this link to her blog Why you cant reinforce fear!
- Help create a new positive emotional response, when fireworks or storms are about to rumble in, don't lie to your dog with words. Show him that great things are about to happen, shower him with his most favorite delectable treats and involve him in his most favorite activities or games. Condition him to have a positive emotional response to scary noises!
Providing "white" or background noise to block out the stimulus often helps. Try turning on a fan, playing the radio, or turning on the TV. Sometimes moderately loud Rock or Rap music, with a methodical and regular down beat, can block out the erratic storm noises. Dr. Salle J Foote provides a great list of suggested music at this link Playlist for Downbeat Music for Noise & Storm Phobia.
- Alternatively, playing soothing music such as the Through a Dog's Ear CDs may help. These CDs were developed by Dr. Susan Wagner,a board-certified veterinary neurologist, and Joshua Leeds a sound researcher, music producer, and one of few published authorities in the field of psychoacoustics. They are also available for downloading.
The Music of Through a Dog's Ear has been clinically tested on more than 150 dogs. It is recommended that this calming CD music is first played when the dog is not exhibiting anxiety. This allows the dog to associate the calming music with a positive state of being. After doing this at least four times, proceed to using it when the dog is exhibiting anxiety. If the music doesn't keep the dog calm at first, stop and use it several more times while not exhibiting anxiety. This music is psychoacoustically designed to calm dogs.
RelaxMyDog.com Calming music with backgrounds of nature sounds is also available for download from this website and they also provide some samples on their YouTube Channel. RelaxMyDog.com YouTube Videos
Victoria Stillwell's Noise PhobiaTraining CD Set Victoria Stillwell has also worked with the creators of Through a Dog's Ear to make a special program for treating Noise phobias. Her CD set begins with soothing music and massage to teach a dog how to relax with the sound of music. She then very gradually adds in the sounds of thunder or fireworks while continuing the music and massage to desensitize the dog to the loud noises.
Watch Victoria's Music Therapy Demonstration Video! This video demo will show you how to teach your dog to relax to music!
- An apparel product called Mutt Muffs can also help dampen the noise!
- Closing drapes and blinds to block out the lightening may help as well.
THE CALMING CAP from The Thundershirt Company can also decrease light sensitivity
The Calming Cap is a wonderful tool for easing your dog's anxiety in high-stress situations. The Calming Cap reduces visual stimuli and helps your dog to remain comfortable, overcome his fearfulness and increase his confidence. The single-panel sheer fabric window does not blind your dog, but simply filters his view. Try it for yourself, you'll see that while your vision is somewhat limited, you're still able to comfortably and assuredly make out shapes.
The CalmingCap from ThunderShirt Handout
Allow the dog to find a SAFE HAVEN.
This may be in the bathtub, in a laundry basket, under a table or bed, in the closet, or in a crate. A darkened and quiet room such as a basement or interior bathroom without windows can be ideal.
If using a crate or creating a safe haven, it is important to gradually habituate the dog to the crate or haven in advance. A dog should learn to enjoy and rest in the crate BEFORE using the crate during phobic events. Praise your dog for entering on calm days, throw or hide treats inside. Give your dog a Kong stuffed food toy to enjoy while resting inside. Teach your dog good things happen when he is inside the haven or crate.
If your dog does seek refuge in its "safe place", DO NOY lock or close the dog inside. Leaving the door open gives the dog an escape route if he needs one. Also do not attempt to make the dog come out, or try to pull it out. This can sometimes cause defensive aggression in a frightened dog.
Below you will find several great resources and Internet Links with tips on crate training:
Crate for Calm A great blog post about how to use a crate to not only housetrain but to create a sense of calm and relaxation in your dog.
Safe Haven For Your Pup By Australia's Veterinary Behavior Specialist, Dr. Debbie Calnon, see how a crate can create a calm and relaxing environment.
How to Crate Train Your Dog this link takes you to the great Karen Pryor Academy's clickertraining.com website. Although this article has a holiday theme, it contains fantastic suggestions for making your pup's crate a fun and happy experience. Highly recommended reading for all crate trainers!
ASPCA Weekend Crate Training
For Other Methods of Treatment for Noise Phobias, Click the links below!
Behavior Modification--Counter Conditioning (CC) and Desensitization (DS)
Medications--Prescription Behavior Modifying Drugs
ADAPTIL or DAP Pheromone Therapy
Body Wraps and Cape
Herbal or Natural Remedies