Sound sensitivity has recently been associated with highly reactive canine behaviour. If your dog reacts quickly, he could be scared and stressed by sound.
Signs of sound sensitivity include obvious jumping if something is dropped, squinting when expecting a sound and behaviour changes when the environment becomes noisy. A plane might go over and the dog’s body language changes. Sound may be the trigger for the dog that lifts his leg on the garden perimeter or even in the home. He might bark a lot at noisy stimulus such as people shouting in the street, that he can’t actually see.
Sound sensitive dogs are more common than we might think and it’s not just an irritant, it makes the sufferer jumpy, stressed and fearful of the next big noise. There is an adrenaline rush involved which changes the body chemistry of the sufferer and of course, there is no control over the environment, the dog begins to expect noise and life becomes a series of ongoing anticipation.
Any sound sensitive dog is having an internal reaction to an external trigger, chemicals within his body are reacting to a situation and making him feel scared and stressed. Fear is a result of the dog feeling that his safety is threatened and his body preparing to deal with the situation with a fight or flight reaction. The process begins with a release of adrenaline into the body of the dog which causes an instant intense stressed feeling and surge of nervous energy.
A sound sensitive dog that lives in a noisy environment will experience this many times a day, is it any wonder they are reactive?
Things like traffic, air traffic, a metal feeding bowl hitting a collar tag and a screaming child in the street outside can send this dog into turmoil that lasts for hours. When the chemical process has begun it has to be slowed and reversed before the dog can relax. This is when sound sensitivity becomes blanket reactivity.
Sound Sensitive Dog - Natural Help
Natural remedies are in the majority unproven, yet many therapists and practitioners work with them for dogs because they affect the chemical reaction inside the body and can provide safe, effective help for the sufferer. The following is a small number of options:
- Adaptil – formerly called DAP, Adaptil is a chemical calmer that focuses on creating a good canine hormonal balance. It is known to have a considerable effect on some dogs that suffer with recurring phobias and is available in many forms inclusive of spray for the dog’s bedding and paws, plug in diffusers, collars and even tablets.
- Thundershirt is a canine t-shirt specifically designed to fit tightly on the core chest and body areas of the dog. The tightness of the shirt works to enable the dog’s body to produce hormones of feeling safe and thus reverse the effect of adrenaline production.
- Natural remedies. there are a number of plant based natural remedies that may assist the dog to settle and relax. Skullcap and Valerian root are available for use in the short term with stressed dogs as is Rescue Remedy from Bach flower remedies. These options work in various ways to restore hormonal balance in the dog and reverse the production of adrenaline.
If your dog is very anxious you may consider a veterinarian for anti anxiety medication, which will ideally be used alongside lifestyle changes and behaviour modification in the long term. Behaviour modification can include confidence building, enrichment activities and desensitising a sound that has been associated with a fear reaction in the dog’s mind, to work this out you will need the help of a qualified expert.
Environmental changes could include playing calming music in the home so the dog can relax, having a walk break and carrying out brain activities instead. You could even tone down the noises in the house, by considering how they are affecting the dog. The sound sensitive dog can’t tell us how the environment is affecting him, so if your dog is reactive, watch carefully and see if he’s affected by sounds.
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