Noise phobias are one of the most common phobias in dogs. Studies in the UK show that 38% of noise phobias referred to behavioural specialists are firework phobias and thunderstorm phobias.
The degree to which dogs are freaked out by fireworks and thunder varies quite a bit. For some it is a temporary anxiety episode that they cope with reasonably well. For others it can literally be a life threatening matter. The most common signs of fear displayed by frightened / panicked dogs include panting, trembling, cowering, hiding and seeking out their owners. Sometimes with noise fear, dogs try to break down solid doors to break out and run away from home.
Dogs running in panic have two big problems. Firstly, they are more than liable to be hit by vehicles on the road when trying to get away from the all-surrounding noise that is frightening them. Secondly, when they do eventually stop running (often from exhaustion) they are, in most cases, quite lost – they have no idea where they are. They can’t tell which way is home and this, of course, adds to their distress.
The photo of the dog and the tooth with this article is a case from last year’s New Year’s eve fireworks. The dog had been panicked by the firework noise and tried to break through the fence to run away. He had broken off both bottom canine teeth and had actually torn the top canine (in the picture) right out of the upper jaw bone in his desperate attempt to bolt.
There are a number of (sometimes complementary) behavioural therapies that can be undertaken for noise phobias. A recent innovation in the treatment of these cases is the DAP diffuser. DAP stands for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. This device works by releasing a synthesized hormonal scent the same as that produced from the underline of female dogs that are feeding puppies. Pheromones are hormonal scent signals and this one induces a feeling of comfort and security for suckling puppies – it is another one of nature’s marvels. DAP also has a positive calming effect on adult dogs and can be used for all kinds of anxiety relief.
WSVC has its own qualified animal behaviourist who consults regularly on the management of all kinds of dog and cat behaviour problems. DAP is one option that can be used for noise phobic dogs. There are other treatments available and sometimes it requires a combination approach.