Calming down dogs with a fear of noise

Celebrations such as Bonfire Night, New Year and Diwali bring along the sights and sounds of fireworks, and this can be worrying for an owner whose dog has a fear of noise.

The temptation is to comfort our dogs when they’re afraid and shaking, however, this is the worst thing you can do!  Stroking your dog or making a fuss when he’s frightened is as good as telling him that you’re frightened as well; therefore the dog’s fearful response is rewarded.

So, here are some top tips to help your dog calm down.

How to tackle the problem…

  • Ensure you’re in the same room as your dog – shut the door so the dog cannot escape the room.  Put any cables or breakables out of the dog’s way, in case he panics and gets tangled up or knocks into any ornaments.
  • Sit on the floor and read a book, this distracts you from looking or reacting to the dog.
  • Now – ignore your dog!  This means no eye contact and don’t speak to your dog, no matter how hard he tries to get your attention.
  • If your dog tries to sit in your lap or lean on you, gently push him away without saying anything or making eye contact.  If the dog repeats this, continue to block him gently over and over again, soon he will realise it’s not going to get your attention and he’ll give up.
  • Once your dog has calmed down (e.g.) he has stopped pacing and panting, and now he has sat down and his breathing rate has steadied, calmly call him over to you for an interaction – gently praise him and give him food reward once he comes to you.  Your dog is now being rewarded for his quiet behaviour.
  • If this interaction kicks off the unwanted behaviour once again, repeat the instructions above.

Top Tips:

By following this guide, you are acting like the calm, convincing and reassuring leader your dog needs.  Your behaviour shows him these noises are nothing to be concerned about.

Note: The time it takes for your dog to calm down depends on his temperament, but with consistency and practicing this technique every time there is thunder, fireworks or any loud noises, soon your dog will learn there is nothing to fear.

Download our information sheet: Fear of noise

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