Dogs often have incredibly heightened senses, especially when it comes to their hearing and sense of smell. This can cause your dog to react extremely negatively to loud sounds, especially when they are unexpected or unfamiliar. You may not have even noticed the sound that has triggered their reaction, which can further complicate identifying the problem. It is important to understand if your dog is sensitive to sounds. This will help you to identify how you can help them, as well as keep them comfortable and safe, even when you can’t control all loud noises. Here are a few things to consider if your dog is sensitive to sounds.
Signs that your Dog is Sensitive to Sounds
Understanding the signs that your dog is sensitive to sounds can help you to make the best decision for your specific situation. It will help you to identify when your dog is experiencing anxiety due to noise. Some moderate signs of sensitivity to sounds include shaking and clinginess around the owner in response to loud noises, such as thunder. However, there can be far more extreme responses to loud noises, such as panicked running, defecating indoors, and destructive chewing. Many owners are unaware that these bad behaviors are actually caused by a reaction to frightening noises, which can cause them to punish their pet and exacerbate the existing problem. Some of these behaviors may also be caused by separation anxiety, which is another behavioral issue that often requires careful treatment.
Causes of Noise Anxiety
Understanding the causes of noise anxiety can help you to make the best decision when it comes to treatment for the sensitivity to the triggering sounds. In some situations, your pet may have had a traumatic past experience with loud noises. This is much easier to detect than some of the other causes of noise anxiety. Genetic predisposition can also cause your dog to be sensitive to sounds. Breeds that are commonly sensitive to sounds include German shepherds, collies, and golden retrievers. Some dogs may gradually begin to show signs of sound sensitivity that worsen with no apparent cause over time. These cases are often the most difficult to treat. It can certainly be very difficult to determine the underlying cause of your dog’s sound sensitivity. You may want to consider consulting with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to obtain superior treatment for your dog.
Take Care to Behave Normally
Though it certainly feels natural to coddle your pet when they are upset or anxious, most experts agree that you should refrain from doing so when they exhibit sound sensitivity. If you console your dog, it is highly likely that they will interpret your actions to mean that they have something to worry about and that their fear is not an overreaction. In addition to this, pets often pick up on your own emotions. For example, a dog that is around an owner that is afraid of thunder will likely develop an aversion or sensitivity to the sound of thunder. Acting completely naturally and nonchalant about the situation can help to calm your pet.
The most effective treatment for sound sensitivity depends primarily on the specific dog. Not every dog will respond to each technique in the same way. It can be helpful to take steps to change the environment or provide a safe place for them to retreat to. It is useful to provide a place where the exterior noise level will be reduced, such as a kennel covered with thick blankets to provide a sound barrier. The use of pressure wraps is another common treatment for anxiety. These wraps are often referred to as Thundershirts, though that is the brand name of some of the most popular pressure wraps.
Behavior modification strategies are often used to help dogs that are averse to various noises. Desensitization tends to be the most popular behavior modification strategy. This method often involves exposing the pet to varying levels of sounds to allow them to become more comfortable when experiencing the sound. In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend anxiety medications to keep your pet calm.
Sounds that Cause Reactions
It is important to pay attention to which sounds cause reactions. In general, your pet is more likely to react negatively to unpredictable or unusual sounds. Take thunder, for example. Thunder is an extremely common trigger for pets with noise anxiety. It doesn’t often occur in regular intervals, so it can be difficult for your dog to predict when the next sound will come. In addition, thunder is likely not a sound that they hear on a daily basis. When they hear sounds regularly, they are likely to adjust to it over time. This is one of the concepts behind the usefulness of desensitization strategies.
May Be Caused by Pain
It is important to pay attention to your dog’s sensitivity to sound. In some situations, your dog’s reaction may be caused by physical pain, rather than anxiety. Paying careful attention can help you to determine whether it is a behavioral response or a reaction to pain. Some dogs have extremely heightened hearing, which can cause them to experience high levels of pain when they hear loud noises. Consulting with an experienced veterinarian can help you to determine whether the behavior is a reaction to pain or anxiety.
At Skyline Animal Hospital, we are dedicated to providing your pets with the services necessary to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. A large array of dogs experience sensitivity to sounds on a regular basis, which can cause them to be anxious, scared, or even in pain. Identifying the underlying cause can help you to determine the ideal solution. Some symptoms of sound sensitivity are relatively mild and easy to deal with. However, other symptoms can be incredibly disruptive and can lead to harm to the owner’s quality of life, not to mention the pet’s. To learn more about how to help your pet with sensitivity to sounds, contact our expert team at Skyline Animal Hospital today!