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Anxiety Issues in Dogs: Tips for New Bedford Pet Owners

anxiety-issues-new-bedfordEven if your dog has never been through any kind of traumatic life experience, anxiety issues in dogs can still occur when they are exposed to sudden or loud sounds. Loud noises, such as firecrackers on a holiday and thunder during a storm, as well as sudden sounds from a truck that backfires while passing by and gardeners using a chainsaw, can all frighten dogs and make them want to run away to a place where they feel safe. Unfortunately, dogs often associate the anxiety that they felt the first time they hear a sound with the sound itself, so it can be difficult to properly address these issues, but there are things that New Bedford pet owners can do to reduce this anxiety and help when their dog is scared of loud noises.

Signs of Anxiety Issues in Dogs
While most dogs will stop, look around and bark when they hear loud noises, this isn’t always a sign of true anxiety or fear. There are a couple of different behaviors that you can look for that will help you determine the depth of anxiety issues in dogs so you can address those fears before they get out of hand. Below is a list of some of the behaviors that are seen in dogs scared of loud noises that are a sign of deep-rooted fear and anxiety.

  • destruction – sometimes when a dog is scared of loud noises, he will chew up furniture, knock over the trash or scratch at the wall, exerting themselves as a means of coping with the anxious feelings and fears
  • escaping – the instinct of “fight or flight” is seen here in many dogs that try to escape their homes or pens when confronted with sudden or loud noises, which can unfortunately end up with a trip to the local emergency veterinary hospital in Dartmouth
  • association – when you start noticing that your dog associates other things with the loud noises that caused fear, such as flashes of light with thunder or cars driving by the house with the backfiring truck, it can be a sign of anxiety issues in dogs

How to Address Anxiety Issues in Dogs
While these tips are not a cure-all for every single dog, they are simple methods that can help New Bedford pet owners to calm their dogs and avoid the described displays of destruction, escaping or association that could be very dangerous to the pet. These methods can be safely tried at home, however if you need additional help or think that there may be a deeper issue at work, consult with your veterinarian at Anchor emergency veterinary hospital in Dartmouth.

  1. Make a Safe Spot – When your dog hears noises that scare him, try making a safe place that will help him to self soothe as a means of addressing anxiety issues in dogs. Note where your dog tries to go when he gets frightened and give him access to that place, such as a certain room of the house, the basement, a closet or other area that will shield him from the noise. Some New Bedford pet owners even create a hiding spot for their dogs complete with a white noise machine that will help dogs feel safe even when humans are not home.
  2. Create a Distraction – One way to help a dog that is scared of loud noises is to distract him when he begins to become anxious. Figure out an activity that you can use to capture your dog’s attention and distract him from fearful reactions or behavior. You must do this immediately when the dog first becomes aware of the noise. Throw a ball, practice commands or tricks that your dog has already learned and praise him afterwards for paying attention to you – and not the noise.
  3. Exposure to Noise – This method can be quite tricky, so make sure to speak with your veterinarian at Anchor emergency veterinary hospital before trying it at home. Some dog trainers and experts believe that you can counter-condition or desensitize your dog to noise simply by exposing the dog to more noises. However, if these techniques are not applied properly, they could potentially make the problem worse. It is important to consult with a professional before attempting this method.

What You Shouldn’t Do if Your Dog is Scared of Loud Noises
New Bedford pet owners should be aware that there are things that you should never do if your dog is scared of loud noises. In fact, the reactions and behaviors below can often increase anxiety issues in dogs and should never be attempted. If your natural instinct is to apply one of the behaviors below, you will need to learn to curb your instincts and seek the advice of a professional at your local emergency veterinary hospital instead.

  • DO NOT put your dog in a crate when he is fearful as a means of preventing escape or destruction behaviors. The dog could injure himself even more trying to get out of a crate and will forever associate crating with fear.
  • DO NOT punish your dog for his fears.
  • DO NOT force your dog to “face up to” his fears, by bringing him closer to the noise. A dog’s natural reaction to this type of behavior is usually to become more aggressive to the people around him in an attempt to get away and hide.
  • DO NOT soothe or reassure your dog when he is afraid. This can inadvertently reinforce fearful behaviors. No treats, petting, talking or cuddling should occur, as it will make your dog think that his fearful behavior is being rewarded.

Consult a Professional
In the end, the best option is to consult with a professional. See your veterinarian at Anchor emergency veterinary hospital in Dartmouth about different ways that anxiety issues in dogs can be treated. New Bedford pet owners will have a lot of options available to them, including training, techniques and methods that can be applied at home, as well as short-term medications that can be prescribed to help a dog that is scared of loud noises.

Don’t try to treat your dog’s anxiety with over-the-counter medications or prescriptions for another dog by yourself. Dogs don’t respond to human prescriptions in the same way and medications that are prescribed for other pets may make the problem worse. Medication alone will not help anxiety issues in dogs. Behavior modification, training and other approaches combined with medication is usually the best method. Your local emergency veterinary hospital knows best. Trust them to help if your dog is scared of loud noises.