It is not uncommon for dogs to be afraid of thunder or loud noises; for even the fiercest of dog breeds have the tendency to run in fear and seek sanctuary in the darkness under your bed. Most dogs that are afraid of loud noises manifest the behavior through destruction and escaping. It also tends to associate the sound with other things that usually comes with the fearful sound, like children for the sound of firecrackers and flashes of lightning and dark clouds above for thunder. Some dogs try to hide to avoid the noise while other others choose to physically escape from the vicinity in order to get away from the source of its fear.
Practical Ways to Stop Your Dog’s Fear of Loud Noises
1. Put your dog in a safe place. This should be your approach when you see that your dog prefers to hide when it hears loud noises. The place could be your room, under someone’s bed, under the stairs, behind the closet or any other place that it may feel safe when it hears loud noises. You should make these places accessible to your dog when it needs to find sanctuary when it is afraid of loud noises.
2. Distract your dog with activity. You can engage in some physical activity with your dog each time it fearfully reacts to loud noises. You can either play with it or let it perform the tricks that it has learned as practice session. Shower it with praises as it performs your commands, but if it cannot focus on your play or practice and becomes overwhelmed with fear instead, you have to discontinue the session your dog may start to connect the activity with its fear.
3. Desensitize your dog to the noise. Choose a time when your pet is calm and try to expose it to a recorded noise. Begin at a low volume. While playing the sound, give it some food treats and play with it. Try to increase the volume little by little and observe how your dog reacts to the sound. If it begins to manifest anxiety at a certain level, reduce the volume and start again.
4. Medication can be an option. Giving your dog anti-anxiety medication can help to suppress its fears especially in the first phase of your desensitization process. This should only be a temporary solution as this is not a long term approach to eliminate the problem.
5. Avoid scaring your dog on purpose. Forcing your dog to experience the fear won’t help it get used to the noise, and reassuring it that it will be fine after exposing it to the fearful experience is uncalled for. Providing a crate for the dog to run to during times of fear doesn’t really address the fear, experts say, but it could be a good way to give the dog a safe haven when the cause of its fears occur. Forcing your dog into the crate during terrifying times doesn’t help, and punishing your dog for being afraid doesn’t work. You should never apply it.