Like humans, dogs can feel fear.
Some people may not take a dog’s fear seriously because it seems simple, such as a thunderstorm. It will never hurt him since he’s inside the house, they may reason out. But, sound phobias are in fact common in dogs, particularly the herding breeds, and they need us to help them overcome their fear and anxiety.
In Lisa’s case, it’s a firecracker that caused her dog’s fear. She wrote in PetHelpful’s Ask-A-Vet section, “A few weeks ago a firework went off and frightened my 16-month-old dog. However, we still managed to walk him at night; but now, weeks later, he’s become reluctant to go out for his evening walk. We’ve tried to excite him and have treats, but nothing is working.”
So, how do you help a dog whose fear was induced by noise?
Dr. Mark dos Anjos explained to Lisa that this kind of trouble is common among younger dogs. Any loud noise such as from a garbage truck, a neighbor’s door, or fireworks can make a dog fearful. Puppies that have not been taught social skills are prone to this type of problem. But some with normal development may still develop a sound phobia.
According to Dr. dos Anjos, “You are doing the right thing by trying to entice him with treats, but as all dog trainers know, treats do not always work with all dogs. Some pets respond a lot better to toys. If he has a favorite toy, the best thing to do is take him out while still playing with the toy. Some dogs get so involved with the play that they can make the transition outside without even realizing it.”
If it doesn’t work, Lisa can try Desensitization Training. According to Dogs Trust, “This is the process of reducing a response by presenting the trigger in its least intense form and gradually building up the intensity over time. This means that the dog only experiences the trigger at a level they can cope with. The ultimate end goal of desensitisation is to reach a point whereby the dog is no longer sensitive to the trigger at all.”
Dr. dos Anjos told Lisa that she could begin by taking her dog out on the porch, showering him with praise, and letting him come back in the house and return to his normal routine. This method is repeated until the dog is comfortable with going outside and taking a walk like before.
Just in case desensitization didn’t work, Liza could give her dog medications and herbal therapies that can decrease his anxiety. But these are given only until her dog has finally overcome his fear.
As Lisa tries to help her dog overcome his fear of going outside, the most importaing thing she should remember is to be patient. A behavioral change cannot be expected in a matter of days, or even weeks. It takes time, but with love, it is possible.
Source: The Autism Site Blog