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Why do loud noises make my pets anxious?

Loud noise anxiety is a one of the most common causes of pet behavioral problems among our pets and can often be triggered by things such as thunderstorms, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, construction noises, gunshots and other loud and unfamiliar sounds. It has also been observed that pets can become anxious with anticipation before a storm hits due to the changes in the barometric pressure.

Symptoms

Anxious dogs often show symptoms of distress such as panting, trembling, excessively drooling, cowering, whining and hiding during thunderstorms. In severe cases, dogs have been known to chew furniture, tear drapes, break windows and claw through paneling, hurting their claws and teeth, in a frantic attempt to escape.

Dogs that do escape risk being hit by a car or winding up in an animal shelter, so it’s important that pet owners take steps to treat their dog's noise problems early on.

Treatment

There are three different approaches that an owner can use at home to try to combat the effects of loud noise anxiety in pets.

1. Counter-conditioning

Counter-conditioning is the technique of associating a positive outcome to a negative event for your pet. For example, when you know a storm is coming you can give your dog their favorite toy, play a fun game, or give them a special treat to disrupt their usual response of anxiety. This will teach them to display an acceptable behavior to the negative stimulus and will take away the fear that they would usually associate to it.

This should not be confused with reinforcing a negative behavior with a reward. It is important not to reward or punish your dog for their anxious behavior because this will reinforce the notion that: a) storms are something that they should be scared of; and b) becoming anxious and displaying erratic behavior will get them treats.

Instead you should always try to maintain a calm attitude to show your pets that nothing is wrong.

2. Desensitization

Dogs can be trained to become comfortable with loud noises through a progressive desensitization program. There are many professional audio tapes on the market that have been designed for this specific purpose, and one that we have found to be particularly effective is the 'Dogs & Loud Noises CD: Treating Noise Problems' from the Happy Dog Trainers.

The CD works by training your dog to become comfortable with various common anxiety trigger noises such as thunder, fireworks, gunshots, planes, cars, motorbikes, bells and sirens, starting at a very low volume and then gradually increasing the volume until the animal is no longer bothered by it.

Training sessions should initially be conducted every day for around 20 minutes until the pet is comfortable with the noise and after that should repeated once a week to ensure that they do not revert back to their old ways.

3. Supplements

Supplements have proven to be an effective way to help maintain the emotional balance in your pets and can be a great way to reduce the effects of noise anxiety. Products such as Canine Tranquil Formula and Feline Tranquil Formula can be used to calm your pets for events such as Fourth of July celebrations, Thanksgiving, New Years Eve and other parties, gatherings and situations where they would usually feel stressed, surrounded by strange people, smells and noises that they are unfamiliar with.

The formulas are designed to slowly take effect and can take up to four to five weeks to realize the full benefits, although most people can notice a reduction in stress in their pets after the first two weeks.

So if you are planning an event that could cause your pet anxiety, it is recommended that you start giving them the tranquil supplement at least a month beforehand to ensure that the desired result is achieved.

Conclusion

Having a pet that suffers from loud noise anxiety can often leave owners feeling helpless and frustrated, but with the treatment techniques listed above it is possible to take control of the problem and get your pet back to feeling happy, healthy, and confident.

In severe cases, medications such as Diazepam, Clorazepate or Alprazolam may be prescribed to treat the problem. Please consult your local veterinarian for more information.

For a limited time only, get the Dogs & Loud Noises CD and the Canine Tranquil Formula in a bundle for only $39.95! Down from $55.94 this is a great saving of $15.99! Click here for details.

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