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Noise Phobia in Dog



Fear of thunderstorms and other forms of noise phobia are common problems in dogs. Administering medications along with changing the pet’s environment, and using behavior modification techniques can help ease the fear. Above all, do not give your pet any attention or reward when he is showing signs of fear; this will only reinforce the fearful behavior. [Veterinary World 2008; 1(11.000): 351-352] Veterinary World Vol.1, No.11, November 2008
Events associated with the danger can cause fear
in pets. Fear can soon become a phobia. Phobia is a
disproportionate fear to the danger of the real situation.
Phobia is defined as a persistence, excessive and
irrational fear response to the situation.
Causes of noise phobia
Noise phobia in dogs can be caused by gunshots,
firecrackers, thunderstorms and even the sound of
birds. For example, the events associated with the
thunderstorms such as a change in barometric
pressure, lightning, electrostatic disturbances, and even
smells associated with the storms can cause noise
phobia in dogs. In almost all instances, the fear of noises
and storms escalates, worsening with each exposure.
Soon the pet may become fearful of similar sounds or
events associated with the noise. A dog afraid of
gunshots may show fear at the mere sight of a hunting
rifle or a pet afraid of thunder may also become afraid
of rain.
Signs of noise phobia
Dogs may display different signs of noise phobias
which include: Hiding (most common sign in cats),
urinating, defecating, chewing, panting, pacing, trying
to escape (digging, jumping through windows or going
through walls, running away), drooling, seeking the
owner, expressing anal glands, off feed, not listening
to commands, trembling or shaking, dilated pupils,
vocalizing (barking or meowing).
Dogs with mild noise phobia become anxious,
trembles, hide during thunderstorms and be afraid of
to go out of door for hours even after the storms has
passed. The mild noise phobia needs a treatment
because generally phobia becomes worst with repeated
Noise Phobia in Dog
Ballamwar, V. A.
, Bonde, S. W.
, Mangle, N. S.
and Vyavahare, S. H.
Department of Veterinary Physiology and Veterinary Biochemistry,
Post Graduate Institute of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Akola.
Treatment of noise phobia
There is no guarantee that a noise phobia can
be totally resolved, but in many instances the fear can
be managed effectively. The effectiveness of treatment
depends on a number of factors including the severity
of the phobia; how long the pet has had it; whether it is
ongoing, seasonal, or unpredictable; and the amount
of time the owner is willing to commit to the behavior
modification techniques. Commonly used medicines:
1. Diazepam 2. Clorazepate
3. Alprazolam 4. Amitriptyline
5. Clomipramine 6. Fluoxetine
Drs. Dodman and Aronson then gave the
melatonin to dogs and produced the result. Aronson
used a dose of 3mg for a 35-100 lb dog. Smaller dogs
get 1.5 mg, and larger dogs may get 6mg.
Homeopathic remedies: 1.Phosphorous PHUS 30C
2.Aconitum Napellus 30C.
Phosphorous PHUS 30C - Drop 3 to 5 pellets
down the back of the dog’s throat (do not touch the
pellets with your hand) every fifteen minutes until you
start to see results. Then stop. You can resume giving
the pellets if the dog starts to get agitated again. If
Phosphorous does not seem to work, during the next
storm try Aconitum Napellus 30C. Administer it in the
same manner.
Change in environment: By changing the environ-
ment of the animal during the storm or noise, the
anxiety level can be reduced. Changing the
environment may reduce the volume level of the sound
or help make the pet less aware of it.
Increase vigorous exercise: The pet should receive
vigorous exercise daily and more so on a day when
the fear-producing noise is likely to occur. The exercise
will help to tire the animal, both mentally and physically,
1. M. V. Sc. Scholar, Deptt. of Vety. Physiology. 2. Head of Deptt. of Vety. Physiology.
3. Prof. & Head of Deptt. of Vety. Biochemistry. 4. M. V. Sc. Scholar, Deptt. of Biochemistry.
Fear of thunderstorms and other forms of noise phobia are common problems in dogs. Administering
medications along with changing the pet’s environment, and using behavior modification techniques can
help ease the fear. Above all, do not give your pet any attention or reward when he is showing signs of
fear; this will only reinforce the fearful behavior.
Keywords: Noise Phobia, Dog, Pet, Medication, Behaviour, Environment, Fear.
Veterinary World, Vol.1(11): 351-352
REVIEW Veterinary World Vol.1, No.11, November 2008
and may make her less responsive to the noise. In
addition, exercise has the effect of increasing natural
serotonin levels, which can act as a sedative.
Project a calm attitude: Pets are very aware of the
mental state of their owners. If you are worried or
nervous, this will add to the pet’s fear. Your pet will look
to you for direction, so keep an upbeat” and “in charge”
Maintain good health and nutrition: Health problems
may increase the stress level of pets, and increase
their anxiety. For instance, a dog in pain because of
hip dysplasia may be more irritable and prone to other
behavior changes. Diets too high in protein have been
linked to some behavioral problems. Consult your
veterinarian if you would like advice about changing
your pet’s diet.
Behavior modification: Special techniques can be
used to help change the animal’s response to the noise.
Counterconditioning: Using counterconditioning, the
animal is taught to display an acceptable behavior rather
than an unacceptable one as a response to a certain
stimulus. In this way, a negative stimulus can become
associated with a positive event. For instance, the only
time the pet gets his most favorite treat, game, or toy,
is just prior to and during a thunderstorm. Dogs who
enjoy traveling may be taken for a car ride, or cats who
love catnip, may be given their favorite catnip mouse.
(Dogs who enjoy swimming will need to wait inside until
the storm is over!) After a time, the pet will start
associating an oncoming storm with getting to have
his favorite thing.
Desensitization: Using desensitization, the animal’s
response is decreased while he is exposed to
increasing levels of the fear-producing stimulus. For
noise phobias, the animal is taught to be calm when
the noise level is low, and then the noise level is
gradually increased. This process is generally more
successful in dogs than cats. To desensitize a pet to
1. Obtain a commercial tape or CD of a storm, or
tape record one yourself (commercial products
generally work better). Play the recording at normal
volume to determine if it will induce the fear response.
If it does, continue with the desensitization; if not, you
will need to obtain a different recording. For some
animals, a recording alone may not work, since there
may be a combination of occurrences that provokes
fear, e.g.; thunder plus lightning or changes in
barometric pressure. For these animals, darkening the
room and adding strobe lights may more closely mimic
the storm, and may need to be included in the
desensitization process.
2. Play the recording at a volume low enough that
the pet is aware of the sound, but it does not induce a
fear response. For instance, the ears may be cocked
towards the source of the sound, but you still have the
pet’s attention. In some instances, that may mean the
pet needs to be in a different room from where the
recording is playing. While the recording is playing at
the low level, engage the pet in an activity in which you
give the commands, such as obedience training or
performing tricks. Give food or other rewards during
the activity when the pet accomplishes what he is
supposed to. If the animal shows signs of fear, stop
and try again the next day, playing the recording at an
even lower level. It is important that the pet not be
rewarded while he is fearful or anxious. Sessions should
last about 20 minutes.
3. If the animal does not respond fearfully, during
the next session, increase the volume slightly. Again,
involve the pet in an activity and reward it for obeying
commands. Continue increasing the volume gradually
for each session. If the pet starts to show fear, decrease
the volume. Repeat the sessions in various rooms of
the house and with various family members present.
4. When the pet does not show fear when the
recording is played at a loud volume, you may want to
try playing the recording for a short time while you are
absent. Gradually increase the time you are gone while
the recording is playing.
5. When the pet appears to have lost his fear, the
sessions can be reduced to one per week. In most
instances, these sessions will need to be repeated
weekly for the life of the pet.
6. During an actual storm, use the same activities
and rewards you used in the training sessions.
To increase the chances of successful
desensitization, the training process should take place
during a time of the year when the actual noise will not
be encountered: if the pet is afraid of thunder or
fireworks, try desensitization during the winter; if afraid
of gunshots, the training should take place outside of
the hunting season. In most instances, it is best to
discontinue any behavior-modifying medications during
the desensitization process. Consult with your
veterinarian before discontinuing any medications.
1. Crowell-Davis Sharon L., (2003): Journal
of the AmericanVeterinary Medical
Association. 222(6):744-748.
2. Dodman, N.H.,Linda Aronson (2000): The
Whole Dog Journal.3(5).
3. McCobb, E. C., E. A. Brown, K. Damiani, N. H.
Dodman (2001): Journal of the American
Animal Hospital Association. 37(4):319-24.
4. Overall, K. L., A. E. Dunham, D. Frank (2001):
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical
Association. 219(4):467-73.
5. Rogerson, J. (1997): Applied Animal
Behaviour Science. 52: 291-297.
Noise Phobia in Dog
Studies with humans and some other animal species have shown that sleep is compromised when the presence of external factors such as light, sound, and temperature surpass normal levels. This study investigated the effects of these environmental conditions on 13 kennelled laboratory dogs, assessing whether each variable interfered with their sleep behaviour and/or increased stress responses, which could further compromise sleep quality. The behaviour of dogs was video recorded for eight months. Diurnal and nocturnal behaviour were recorded, along with naturally occurring levels of temperature, light and sound in the dogs’ kennel environment. Faecal cortisol metabolites (FCM), from samples collected every morning, were used to monitor the dogs’ adrenocortical activity. GLMM models and non-parametric tests were conducted to evaluate the relationship between sleeping patterns, environmental variables, and stress on the studied dogs. Nocturnal sleep decreased in response to increases in temperature and in day light duration. No effects of sound and FCM levels on dogs’ sleep were observed. However, diurnal sleep was affected by sound and FCM levels, decreasing when both factors increased. Additionally, noisier days increased stress responses, especially in male dogs. Increased FCM levels were associated with changes in the diurnal behaviour of dogs; for example, decreased activity. The decrease in daily activities and increased physiological stress responses could be associated with maladaptation to the environment, which could indicate poor welfare. Our study suggests that mitigating the impact of environmental conditions in the kennels could improve sleep quality and the overall quality of life of the dogs.
Full-text available
To learn more about predispositions for, signs, and progression of canine thunderstorm phobia, a survey for owners was posted on the Internet. Questions addressed signalment, age of onset, behavior during storms, and treatments tried. Sixty-nine responses were received. Herding dogs and herding crossbreeds accounted for the majority of dogs. Seventeen of 41 dogs with a known age of onset began exhibiting thunderstorm phobia <1 year of age. Various characteristic responses of dogs to storms were described. Improved knowledge of the demographics of thunderstorm phobia, its development, and presentation will assist in understanding the genesis and progression of the condition.
Full-text available
To determine the frequency of nonspecific clinical signs in dogs with separation anxiety, thunderstorm phobia, noise phobia, or any combination of these conditions and determine whether these conditions are associated in dogs. Case series. 141 dogs. Diagnoses were established using specific criteria. Owners of dogs completed a questionnaire on how frequently their dogs exhibited destructive behavior, urination, defecation, vocalization, and salivation when the owners were absent and the types and frequency of reactions to thunderstorms, fireworks, and other noises. Associations of the 3 conditions and of various nonspecific clinical signs within and between diagnoses were nonrandom. The probability that a dog would have separation anxiety given that it had noise phobia was high (0.88) and approximately the same as the probability it would have separation anxiety given that it had thunderstorm phobia (0.86). However, the probability that a dog would have noise phobia given that it had separation anxiety (0.63) was higher than the probability that it would have thunderstorm phobia given that it had separation anxiety (0.52). The probability that a dog would have noise phobia given that it had thunderstorm phobia (0.90) was not equivalent to the converse (0.76). Results suggested that dogs with any of these conditions should be screened for the others. Interactions among these conditions are important in the assessment and treatment of dogs with > 1 of these conditions. Responses to noise were different from those to thunderstorms, possibly because of the unpredictability and uncertainty of thunderstorms.
From a study of 247 (102 male dogs and 145 bitches) case histories presenting varying degrees of fear and phobia, both generalised and specific, it has been possible to define standard patterns of behaviour. This was done on the basis of severity of the fear, the type of fear response displayed and the nature of the stimulus (James and Rogerson, 1995).Before treatment commenced, the extent of the fear response was noted using the dogs recovery time once the fear inducing stimulus was removed.The treatment programme presented has proven to be 100% successful in all of the cases (n = 89) presented in the period August 1993–August 1995. Cases have ranged from fear of gunfire, hot air balloons, fireworks, bees, high altitude aircraft, crows, thunderstorms and any other sounds, smells and sights where it has been possible to obtain a reasonable degree of stimulus control.
  • L Crowell-Davis Sharon
Crowell-Davis Sharon L., (2003): Journal of the AmericanVeterinary Medical Association. 222(6):744-748.
Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • K L Overall
  • A E Dunham
  • D Frank
Overall, K. L., A. E. Dunham, D. Frank (2001): Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 219(4):467-73. 5. Rogerson, J. (1997): Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 52: 291-297.
  • N H Dodman
  • Linda Aronson
Dodman, N.H.,Linda Aronson (2000): The Whole Dog Journal.3(5).