What to do when your dog is scared?

April 13, 2012

We know that dog have heightened senses. Dogs can see very well even in the dark. They have ultrasensitive scenting ability as well. A dog that barks or howls at nothing can make your hair stand on ends. The dog is not barking at something supernatural. It is highly probable that the dog is hearing faraway sounds that cannot be heard by humans. Dogs have sensitive hearing abilities as well. Can this be the reason why this animals fear loud sounds? Most dog owners are concerned by their pet’s fear of thunder and firework sounds. Dog experts believe that this is not due to canine’s sensitive ears given that not all dogs fear loud sounds. German shepherd dogs, Basset Hounds, Collies and Beagles are only some of the breeds noted to have the tendency to develop noise phobias. A dog frightened by loud sound would pant, shake and drool excessively. The dog may urinate and defecate and even express its anal glands. A dog that is trying to escape to hide can turn into a destructive dog.

The dog may seek your reassuring presence during a thunderstorm. Allow the pet to come near you but refrain from petting or cuddling the pet. Doing so would be a reinforcement of the unwanted behavior. Consoling the pet means that you are acknowledging that the thunderstorm is something to be afraid of. Punishing the dog for the “foolish” behavior must not be done either. The pet’s fear of loud noises can be managed and treated. The behavior of the pet can be modified. You know that the pet is disturbed by thunderstorms. You know as well that the dog would give anything for fried chicken legs. Use the treat to calm the pet. Every time the dog has to face another thunderstorm be ready with a plateful of fried chicken. The negative stimulus will be associated to a situation that is enjoyed by the pet. The environment of the pet can be changed as well. Reduce the level of the fearful sound by turning on the TV or playing soothing music. You can take the dog in a windowless room where the sound of the thunder will at least be muffled. For severe cases you can consult a vet. A vet would commonly prescribe medications that will sedate the pet. It is also possible to desensitize the pet by gradually introducing the sound. This is a slow process but one that is proven to be effective in eliminating the pet’s fear of loud sounds.

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