Forums » Behavior

Noise phobias in blind dogs

    • 340 posts
    September 18, 2018 2:18 PM EDT

    Question submitted as part of the Crash, Boom, Bang: Update on Canine Noise Phobia Treatments webinar:

    Is there any data on noise phobias in blind dogs, specifically those blind since birth-3mos? The dog in question is a 7 yr old medical alert service dog with sudden onset noise issues which have escalated over a 1 yr period, despite management attempts, and a continued desire on her part to work.  Could there be a physical reason for her sensitivity? Is there a diagnostic route available?

    Answer provided by Julia (Julie) Albright, MA, DVM, DACVB:

    I suspect your dog’s development of noise phobia at this 6-7 year age mark is unrelated to her lack of vision.  Like other dogs that develop noise reactivities, she may be developing early cognitive decline (aging-related changes), had a traumatic experience, or other stressors in her life increased her baseline anxiety and made her more susceptible to dishabituating to noises that previously didn’t bother her.

    Animals that seem to develop noise phobia (or other situational fears) concurrent with or after the onset of blindness, likewise, may be suffering some generalized anxiety and predisposed to developing an aversion to stimuli, such as noises, to which they had previous habituated. Nevertheless, your veterinarian should be informed as a different neurologic issue may be causing both the blindness and the behavior change.  

    Techniques mentioned in the lecture should apply to blind dogs as well. In general, I find the small markers that are impregnated with a scent and can adhere to stairs, furniture, doorways, etc. to be very helpful for blind dogs in more confidently navigating their environment, and decreasing anxiety.