Swiss National Day is coming around again. A fun social celebration on the 1st August for the majority of humans but a source of fear for many of our four legged friends. Those fireworks have a lot to answer for !
Noise anxiety is a common problem in the dog population and dogs can be afraid of many different loud noises. Fireworks top the list in terms of triggers. Typical responses include trembling, shaking, hiding, seeking comfort, destruction, urination, and salivation.
But what causes this extreme reaction?
It is estimated that more than 25% of dogs suffer some form of serious anxiety related to loud noises. Nearly all dogs however do show some form of anxiety when hearing fireworks. But is it related to nature or nurture?
Is it Nurture?
Until recently, most theories on noise sensitivity in dogs suggested environmental factors as a cause. These could include a traumatic noise-related event early in a dog’s life, or a lack of exposure to loud noises as a puppy.
The way owners respond to their dog’s fearful behavior and how other dogs in their pack react to the noise have also been offered as possible explanations.
One research program discovered a correlation between changes in a dog’s environment and fear. Dogs raised by the same owners who bred them, were less likely to be afraid of noises later in life. The researchers noted that hunting breeds were not as sensitive whilst cross-breeds were likely to be more afraid. So it is nurture that is at the heart of the problem.
Well, it turns out – not necessarily!
Is it Nature?
Some more recent studies have suggested that noise anxiety may have more to do with biology than environment. In other words – “it’s not you Fido, it’s your gene’s.”
Studies showed a marked correlation between breeds and noise anxiety. One eminent dog psychologist goes further. He agrees with the genetic predisposition to noise fearfulness and he also suggests that there might be a hormonal factor involved too.
From his analysis of study data, female dogs are about 30 percent more likely to be afraid and neutered dogs are 72 percent more likely.
The Bottom Line
Most dogs have some level of fear when it comes to fireworks. You know your dog best and will know how much to intervene during the festivities. When in doubt, remember that prevention, distraction, and lots of love are always a good idea!
6 top tips to deal with noise related anxiety
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple strategies for dog owners to deal with doggy stress. From distraction to anti-anxiety vests and more, we’ve rounded up all the tips you need to help your pet feel better when the fireworks start.
Stay indoors & Close the Windows & Doors
- This helps to reduce the level of the noise and of course to prevent your dog running away.
- Turn on the radio or the TV to provide a white noise distraction and to dampen the noise.
- Don’t leave your doggy “home alone”. If you really can’t be there to comfort them then make sure you engage a trusted pet sitter or care provider.
Research possible herbal rememdies or medications
- Herbal calmants work well for our dogs and they are 100% safe too. Try Dr. Dingo, RELAX, just before and during the celebrations.
- Calming natural sprays also are worth trying. Some dogs respond well to lavender. Hownd have created a 100% natural and vegan body mist in their “Keep Calm” range. It smells wonderful too! Spray onto your dog and brush into their coat – the brushing action too has a calming effect as does your undivided attention!
- Pheromone and Melatonin based anxiety treatments are available over the counter. Some people swear by them and other report little change in their pet’s behaviour.
- In severe cases prescription medication can be a literal life saver for a noise phobic dog. If your dog has an extreme terror of loud noises or fireworks in particular, then make an appointment with your vet to discuss what can be prescribed to help.
Give your dog lots of snuggles
It is a myth that petting your pup during an anxious episode will reinforce their fear and make them more afraid. Calm soothing and reassurance will do a world of good as long as you remain calm yourself. So cuddle away!
Invest in a pressure wrap or vest
Some dogs respond well to wearing a snug fitting vest that applies a comforting pressure to the body. Typically, these should be worn for no more than 30 minutes at a time under supervision. There are many different types but probably the best known is the Thundershirt.
Many dogs go missing over these type of celebration periods. They simply get frightened and “the flight mode” kicks in – and they run to find a place to hide.
- Keep your house secure with doors and windows closed. Even indoor pets can panic and use drastic measures to escape when frightened
- Make sure your dog has clear ID in case of an accidental escape.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended at home
Distract your dog with treats or activities they enjoy
- If your dog is afraid, just ignore the behaviour. Walk with him and talk to him as if you were back in puppy training, giving treats for sitting and staying etc.
- Use natural treats that are contain naturally calming ingredients such as herbs or CBD. Hownd, Keep Calm treats are a tasty suggestion.
- Get them involved with something else such as intelligence games like those from Nina Ottosson
How can The Woof Club help you?
We hope that you will find this blog useful when faced with dealing with potential noise anxiety on celebration days. Please let us know your thoughts and experiences on this important topic. You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on this page. The Woof Club have a selection of helpful items in the online shop as mentioned in the article. Please do take some time to check them out! They are on offer right now for this holiday weekend.