Forums » Behavior

Dealing with specific noise phobias

    • 406 posts
    September 18, 2018 2:23 PM EDT

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

    There are many sources of noise phobia ... i.e. a blender, doorbell sounding, etc. How can we deal with these effectively?

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

    Any noise phobia can be addressed in a similar fashion: avoiding the noise as much as possible (safe haven, white noise), and then desensitizing using a recording of the sound and quality speakers.  I also recommend that clients record the specific stimuli the dog is reacting to in the home if possible.  For example, record your own doorbell, blender, neighbor dog, garbage truck, and even storm.  Animals are more likely than we are to pick up on subtle differences between your blender and a generic recording of a blender.  Even then, the recording isn’t perfect. 

    We are more successful in avoiding and treating predictable and controllable noises like vacuums and blenders.  It is very difficult to complete avoid unpredictable, frequent, or intense environmental noises like thunder, low-battery smoke detectors, phone alerts, appliance beeping, etc.  We do our best to avoid and work on those desensitization protocols frequently in the early stages with these dogs.  These are challenging with a lower prognosis for resolution, as are sounds that the human cannot detect.  I have had a case of a malfunctioning ultrasonic bark corrector create a lasting generalized anxiety in a dog.