During the summer months, the use of rockets and bangers is common, especially during local fiestas. They are extremely loud and cause terrible fear in dogs. They have a hearing range from 10.000-50.000Hz, whilst a humans is from 16.000-20.000Hz. A dog’s hearing is more finely tuned than ours and can register 35.000 vibrations a second. For this reason, when a dog hears a very loud noise, they can suffer greatly from fear and stress.
Phobias and fear are very frequent in dogs, they can affect 1 dog in every 2, and moreover can cause serious complications which affect quality of life. As time passes, dogs which are afraid of loud noises can develop other fears including cloudy days, rain and thunderstorms. Dogs which are afraid of noise usually display the following behavi
- Agitation and trembling
- Not wanting to be apart from owners
- Excessive barking
- Crouching/hiding under furniture
- Trying to escape
- Defecating or urinating in the house
- Panting and pacing without stopping
- Loss of appetite
HOW TO HELP YOUR PET?
Between weeks 3 and 12 of a puppy’s life they go through the socialisation period, the most sensitive of their development. It is the ideal time to work with them to avoid loud noises being a negative experience, to gradually familiarise them with new situations, such as different noises. It is a good idea to get the animal used to new things being related to a positive experience.
Recordings (easily found on internet) can be used. Distract the pup with toys or treats and, while distracted, play the recording quietly. If no discomfort or fear is shown, gradually increase the volume. Like this, the animal will gradually accept the noise and consider it as something linked to a pleasant situation, thus reducing fear.
Also tablets with natural ingredients can be used. These help relax the pet and reduce anxiety, thanks to a canine calming pheromone(DAP) which transmits calmness, helping the pet to feel more relaxed in stressful situations. These tablets start to work a couple of hours after being given and last for 6 hours. They can be a good solution but it is very important to seek advice from your vet before using them.
At the same time, it is recommended you follow these guidelines on days of a lot of noise.
Have a shelter/refuge prepared, a place where your pet feels safe, such as a transport box or cardboard box
Encourage the use of this safe place by offering toys or treats, making it a happy place to be.
Lower blinds or close curtains, avoid a lot of light
Turn on TV or radio to lessen outside noise
Take your pet out to a place where it is unlikely bangers will be heard.
It is equally important that during these periods of fear, you stay calm and close to your pet. Our calm attitude helps him/her accept it as a normal situation and that there is no danger. Carry out a routine activity to take his mind off what is causing the fear. Don’t force him to go outside and always stay close. Above all, NEVER show anger or punish him.
However, if the dog shows signs of fear with a quiet noise level or reacts badly to ‘firework type’ sounds, it’s advisable to contact a specialist vet in animal behaviour so as to begin a training programme to get him/her accustomed to different noises.