Canine noise aversion is defined as anxiety and fear based reaction to noise, which is also known as noise sensitivity, anxiety or phobia. The most common triggers of canine noise aversion are fireworks and thunderstorms. But other common, everyday sounds including construction noise, street sounds such as screaming sirens and honking horns, or the clamor of celebrations can also trigger noise aversion. It is important to recognize these other triggers of noise aversion because, regardless of the cause, noise aversion progresses when not properly treated. Progression of noise aversion includes one or more of the following:
Increase in severity of signs
Aversion to new noises
Development of other types of anxiety
Longer time to recover from each noise event
The signs of noise aversion can be subtle such as lip licking, yawning or remaining still. More obvious signs include panting, pacing, vocalizing or hiding. In severe cases, dogs may try to run away, which can result in self-trauma as well as property damage. The suffering associated with self-inflicted trauma is readily recognized. However, the physiological and emotional distress that dogs with noise aversion experience is often overlooked as a welfare concern.
Although over 1/3 of pet owners report that their dog shows signs of noise aversion, some pet owners do not always associate these behaviors as indicative of fear, anxiety and suffering. Therefore it is important for pet owners to talk to their veterinarian about their dog’s noise aversion. In preparation for that conversation, pet owners may consider the following:
What sounds or triggers does my dog react to?
What signs does my dog display when exposed to these sounds?
How often does my dog experience noise aversion?
How severe is my dog’s noise aversion?
How long does it take my dog to recover from an episode of noise aversion?
By identifying the various triggers and signs, severity, and duration of your dog’s noise aversion, you will be able to provide important information to your veterinarian so they can begin treatment. Although early treatment is recommended, it is never too late to begin treatment.
Treatment options that your veterinarian may recommend include modifying the home environment to avoid or reduce exposure to the noise. Behavior modification techniques may be necessary. Specific medicines are prescribed in most cases because noise aversion is a neurological condition and requires a treatment that can address the underlying cause.
By identifying noise aversion early and providing proper treatment and monitoring, you will be able to improve your dog’s quality of life so that you and your dog can enjoy your time together.
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