Getting used to loud noises

Summer monsoons bring some much needed rain to the desert, but, for dogs, the thunderstorms that accompany that rain can be a source of severe anxiety and can cause everything from mild stress to paralyzing fear, and in some cases, uncontrollable rage.

While no one wants to watch their canine companion suffer, it’s important to remember not to comfort or reward that fear/state of mind. Instead, you want to lessen the impact of the sound—try moving away from doors and windows and put on some music or turn up the volume on the TV. Do the best you can to see them through the storm. In some cases, Thundershirts and other store-bought items can initially help, but overtime they can lose their effectiveness.

The best thing to do is help your pet overcome their fear altogether.  You can do this by slowly acclimating them to distressing noises (thunder, sirens, loud trucks or traffic, or whatever else may be a problem). I recommend getting a recording of these sounds. You can typically find CD’s specifically designed for this at pet supply stores and many of the larger retailers, or you can always grab your phone and make your own recordings.

Start by playing the sound and slowly lowering the volume until there is no response. Then reward your pet with whatever impacts him/her the most, whether it be affectionate words, hugs and kisses, belly rubs, or treats. Then, raise the volume a little. If there is no reaction, reward and continue. If there is a negative response, go back to the previous setting and reward your pet when there is no response. Keep in mind, we always want to end a training session with success. You can always take a break (even wait until the next day if you want) and try again. And remember, be patient—getting frustrated or angry will only make matters worse.  The whole experience should be carefully controlled and work to keep your dog calm.