The Best Dog Noise Anxiety Treatments

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Not all dogs are as outgoing or as bombproof as I feel they used to be many years ago.  I think that fewer puppies are being socialized by pet owners the way they need to be and in the time frame that is demanded so that they are best set up to deal with the loud and obnoxious society that we live in these days.

The need for dog noise anxiety treatment, training, drug therapy, and supplements have almost become the norm.

Noise phobia and noise aversion run rampant in a lot of dogs.  I think this condition is sad.  Because, again, we live in a very loud, distracting and stressful world.  My brother’s yellow Labrador Retriever is a great dog, but he has all kinds of anxiety.  We can leave the front door open, and he won’t run out, but it isn’t because he is well trained, it is because he is terrified of going out the front door.  I am not sure I have ever seen a dog with agoraphobia.  And, I think most dog owners don’t even really notice.

Pet owners are so busy with life, stressors, and the pull of silly things like social media; they don’t take into consideration that their dogs need more of their time, desensitization to weird and noisy things and more socialization.

I must admit, sometimes even I have some noise aversion and social anxiety when I am out and about in public places.  After all, I am a very quiet person.   But having an aversion to something is definitely different than having a phobia.  I have an aversion to liver (the smell, texture, and taste) but I am not terrified of it.  Honestly, I often cook it up for use during my dog training appointments.

But unlike man’s best friend, my aversion to loud noises and social anxiety does not turn into fears, phobias, or a need for behavioral medications.  I just dislike crowded places.

Fear, for lack of better words and descriptions, sucks.  Phobias are terrifying.

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Think of what you are most fearful of closed in spaces or “claustrophobia,” spiders or “arachnophobia,” fear of falling or “basophobia,” fear of drowning or “aquaphobia.”  The truth is that ninety percent of us humans probably have fears or outright phobias.  I can certainly admit to a few of them, so it is common sense that some of our dogs have sound phobia, noise phobia, or anxiety disorders.

I can certainly empathize with dogs that have extreme fears.

After all, even though I know my fears and anxieties are irrational, I still have a difficult time combating or dealing with them.  At one point in my life, after my dog died, I suffered from panic attacks and irrational thoughts.  Every time I left the house I imagined my other dogs would die.  I knew I was crazy, but it didn’t stop the panic attacks and how I felt.

Your dog doesn’t have the mental ability to rationalize and realize his fears are irrational; he just goes with the anxiety he feels within.   Most dog owners just don’t understand how differently dogs feel and deal with situations then we as humans deal with situations.

Dog Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders among dogs (and I swear humans) are also running rampant in recent society.  I think people are overwhelmed by so much that life now requires.  Gone are the days of working one job, making dinner and doing laundry.  Most of us have to have three jobs or more just to make ends meet.  This means people have less time to spend devoted to their dogs and socializing them the way they demand.

It is sad to watch either, dogs or humans struggle with anxiety, but there are a few things step by step guides we use to help; your dog that is!  Many dogs self-mutilate by licking themselves until they bleed or develop other severe obsessive-compulsive behaviors when they suffer from anxiety.


Obviously, preventative medicine is always the best approach.

Prevent your dog from developing noise phobia, social anxiety, and fears.

If you have a puppy, it is critical to socialize him and expose him positively and socialize him to sights and sounds from week 7 to week 16.  It is also serious to try to ensure that scary things don’t happen to him during this time.  Unfortunately, one horrible experience during this time can affect how your puppy feels about similar incidents.

A friend of mine let some neighborhood kids hold her puppy during this fear stage, and he was dropped.  He never really liked kids again.

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However, you can control how your dog deals with sound, especially annoying or loud noise.

Because I believe in clicker training, or marker training, and positive reinforcement and I start my puppies early, all I have to do is make a slightly irritating noise, click and reward as long as the puppy doesn’t show fear.

If my puppy shows some fear or apprehension, I try to muffle the noise and continue while laughing, smiling and making light of the situation.  Your dog wants to see that you are not scared and that your behavior remains light and happy.  If you are not bothered and showing happy human behaviors, the puppy can see that what he thought was scary and might cause fear and anxiety instead is a silly distraction to be ignored.

At my house, I work up from small irritating sounds to sounds that would scare almost any dog.  I even string cans together on a rope and attach them to a pole so that while we are playing and training, I can desensitize my dog to noise.

I certainly don’t want a dog that is fearful or shows signs of anxiety when they hear a noise.

After all, I try and take my dogs into many environments, and I cannot control the noises that they might hear.  They might be near a gun range and hear gunfire, they might hear a jackhammer while we stroll through the city, or they might encounter the irritating beep of a large truck backing up.  I want my dogs to be as bombproof as possible.

So…. I am as LOUD and OBNOXIOUS as possible while tossing them treats and desensitizing them.  It is not a far reach to see or hear me banging pots and pans together as I play with and interact with my dogs.

Stop Using Noise As A Correction

I hate old school dog training.

Old school training recommends using loud noises to deter your dog from bad behavior.

For example: if your dog jumps on the counter shake a loud can full of pennies or throw a can full of pennies to teach him that jumping on the counter is scary and bad.

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This kind of training creates noise phobia, anxiety disorders, and fear of random noises because the dog doesn’t always conclude that “jumping on the counter” brings the noise.  Instead, he just becomes scared and apprehensive of sound.

In my humble opinion, this is barbaric.

I want a dog that is “bomb proof.”  I want a dog that doesn’t have a fear of loud noises and doesn’t need anxiety medication like clomipramine.

I like a dog that isn’t a liability when he hears a noise.

In my opinion, loud noises and extreme stimulus should equal my dog’s opportunity to earn a reward by ignoring them and paying attention to me!

If a 44 magnum goes off, or a thunderstorm rattles my home, I want my dog to look to me for reward and not for correction or adding to their sound sensitivity.

I mean, imagine if every time you were scared, you were also corrected physically or pain was added to the situation.  This would certainly add to your pain and suffering and anxiety.

Recognize the Signs of Anxiety

Avoid your dog’s suffering by taking note of these signs.










Running or hiding

Aggressive behavior (especially when they are not normally aggressive)

Establish a Safe Place

I like to establish a safe place where my dog can go and feel comfortable.

One of my dogs has EXTREME thunderstorm phobia.  He drools, he paces, he whines, and all in all, he feels like he is going to die.

I have actually taught him to crate himself during these times.

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He feels safe in his crate.

His crate faces away from the windows so he can’t see the flashes of light that thunderstorms bring.

And, when I am home, I help ease his possible fears by turning up the radio and put on some calming music to drown out other noise sensitivity.

I am always very proud of him when the pressure drops, and he runs and gets in his crate.  It tells me I have successfully crate trained him and he feels most comfortable there.

Having a safe place can be crucial for a dog that has anxiety and fear and noise phobia.

Drug Therapy and Supplements

Drug therapy and some supplements can also help to ease your dog’s anxiety.

Some people even swear by things like “Thunder Shirts” or even just a tightly wrapped T-shirt.

Anxiety Leads to Other Negative Behaviors

Anxiety leads to other bad or negative behaviors.

Imagine being anxious all of the time, as a human, anxious behavior can lead to addiction and depression in humans.

Anxious behavior in dogs can lead to obsessive-compulsive behaviors like licking and self-mutilation of your dog’s body.  Some dogs will like their feet or skin until they create a bloody skin infection.

Other dogs’ obsessive-compulsive behaviors can lead to eating walls, furniture or ripping up carpet and flooring.  None of these things are positive especially if it comes at the expense of your dog’s health and body!

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Lessening anxiety is like lessening anxiety and depression in humans and can help a dog’s behavior and help deal with life even if it is sometimes scary.  Your dog’s suffering and preventing it is critical to their and your happiness.

Symptoms of Noise Phobia

There are noise sensitivities, noise fears, and noise phobias.

If I have a fear, it is scary; but if I have a phobia, it is debilitating.

For instance, if I have arachnophobia, I am scared of spiders.  If a spider comes into my space, I am scared, but I can get some bug spray or some kind of cleaner (like bleach) that will kill the spider, use the bug killer and then I can move on with my life.

If I have extreme arachnophobia and fear, I can’t even deal with the thought of getting close enough to the spider to kill it or deal with it.  I may have to contact someone else to come in and deal with the spider or the premises.  The fear is literally debilitating.  I am basically unable to function.

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Understand the difference?  You can deal with one, even if it is difficult but the other you can’t deal with alone.

You need to figure out which dog you have.  Fear of loud noises or fear and anxiety and debilitating suffering from loud noises?  And, I would recommend not to go with your emotions.  Most pet owners hate to see their dogs have any fears at all.  But the truth is that we all have fears, and most of us work through them.  So give your dog the ability to become strong and work through his basic fears.

After all, I used to be afraid of the dark when I was a kid.  But my parents kept making me sleep alone, and they turned the lights out and eventually I was able to overcome your fear.  You can’t save your dog from EVERY fear.  Let him gain strength in working things out.

If, however, the fear is debilitating and he can’t breathe, can’t move or can’t function; consider talking to your veterinarian about behavioral medications or supplements.

Medications don’t work alone when dealing with problem behaviors, aggression, or fears. And, often behavior modification alone will also not be as helpful.

But behavior modification with certain behavioral medications can make a huge difference in making improvements with both fear and anxiety and aggression.  And, a boarded veterinary behaviorist can be integral in recommending the right medications, supplements and form a baseline for behavior modification.

Destructive Behavior

Without behavior modification and possible drug therapy, anxiety and fear can lead to anxiety disorders, problem behaviors, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and extreme destructive behaviors.

So please do your pets a favor and don’t ignore their fears.

I have seen dogs break windows to try and escape when they are terrified (another reason I like a safe place and a safe crate).

Do your best to help your best friend overcome his noise anxiety and if you can’t come up with the perfect treatment on your own, call your local veterinary behaviorist for help!

You can both feel better about life, once you learn to conquer some fear and anxiety.

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  1. Peter says:

    What about traumatic noise anxiety? My JRT was 2 yrs old when he was exposed to traumatizing gunfire noise. He seemed fine for about 1yr afterward, but then was triggered by a heavy thunderstorm. Since then, he hears rain and immediately associates it with loud thunder. To us, it seems absurd, but we try to comfort him as much as possible and use a Thundershirt. It really helps and we see the anxiety decreasing. We are hopeful that we can further decrease his anxiety so that he no longer has that anticipatory anxiety. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    I would suggest finding a CD that you can play with gun fire or thunderstorm noises


  2. Douglas Burnside says:

    Where I live in Mexico, there is an annual religious festival that lasts a week, and is celebrated by shooting off loud, explosive rockets into the sky, starting at six in the morning and continuing at odd times during the day.

    My poodle glances up at the first one, then seems to think, “Oh, it’s those damn things again.” and completely ignores the subsequent explosions.

    The Sheltie, though, is a different story. She isn’t afraid of them, they don’t terrify her, but she just doesn’t LIKE them. I think they hurt her sensitive ears. During the week of the festival, she refuses to go outside for her walk, preferring to stay inside where it is quieter.

    Next week she’ll be happy to go on the twice-daily walks; this week she says “No, I think I’d rather just stay home.”


  3. Susan Norman says:

    My hound mix was adopted from local shelter at age 4 . She is now 7. I had a trainer early on because she did not want to walk on a leash (she rolled and pulled) and seemed afraid of cars & trucks going by on the street when I walked her. The trainer had me get training treats and sit by the side of the road and every time a car/truck went by I would click, treat her and say good girl. It worked very well; however, when she is on a leash and a person walks/jogs by us or especially if they are walking a dog – she goes ballistic. Barking and lunging at them – to me seems terrified that she can’t get away if they come after her. She likes other dogs if they come to her yard and when she goes to playgroup. She is not on a leash at those times. I still treat her as the “enemy” approaches to distract her from being so hyperfocused on them and it usually helps if I start early enough. It has not broken her reactions however as it did with the cars. It is just a constant “maintenance” issue. Is there anything else I can do to help her?


    Minette Reply:

    Most behavior problems are constant maintenance issues. We can’t change their temperament we can only teach and control and hope that becomes a default


  4. I am training a two year old Shorkie as a Hearing Service Dog.
    As I am a chaplain at the Race Track, She has been exposed to loud cars since she was 3-4 months old. That does not bother her in the least, nor does storms, we live in SW Florida, the lightening capital of the country, so thunderstorms and even Hurricane IRMA did not bother her. She will alert me to phone rings, Kitchen timers, door bells,etc and expect a treat.
    She will walk with me on stairs, walkways on towers (albeit near the wall), takes elevators, loves the water, has complete, full trust and will do anything I ask her to do.
    However when we take her in the car and put on the turn signal, she goes nuts, gets excited, whines, and will even bark – (not normal for her) – until we get out of the car – OR – get on the highway and back over 50 MPH, then she settles right down. I’ve heard all the jokes about her being a racing dog and can’t stand to go slow.
    She is a near perfect Service Dog, except for this reaction to the turn-signals.
    Any ideas?


    Minette Reply:

    Honestly I would spend a lot of time driving around with turn signals on until she desensitizes to it


  5. Bev says:

    Great advice. We have an eleven year old golden retriever and this spring we took a two week vacation and left our golden at our with friends she loves.a day after we left she became very ill and had to make a trip to the vets for a shot to quit vomiting. This summer our other dog took sick and died from a heart issue. We are scheduled to be away again in Feb and will once again leave our dog here at home with friends. I am so worried about leaving her. Any advice ?


    Minette Reply:

    Have your friends try and make everything as normal as possible for her and have them visit her and take her for walks often before you leave


  6. Marjoleintje Alexis Hattan says:

    Travel in car. Love to go bye bye then barks continuously. In soft crate, treats, drugs. Nothing works!!


  7. Jenny says:

    I have a fearful GSD now 17 months and although having had 6 before am struggling with his anxiety. He attacks the car tailgate when closing and rocks the car from side to side barking and throwing himself against each side. Weird because he can’t wait to get in and would stay in there all day. He pants very fast on the journey but when home doesn’t want to get out! I am baffled!


    Minette Reply:

    I would seek the help of a veterinary behaviorist, this sounds more like obsessive compulsive or prey drive and not necessarily anxiety but they can witness the behavior and give you more of an idea


  8. Debbie says:

    My 3.5 year old Cocker-poo has developed a fear of reflections and shadows. Reflections from a watch for example catching the sunlight, he constantly watches the ceiling / walls. Bedtime is a nightmare- he barks at my shadow as I get into bed, I just get him settled (he sleeps on my bed with a reassuring hand on him) then he suddenly jumps up and stats barking at the wall. Not sure if he is now having nightmares about the shadows. Now trying some anxiety medication which seems to be helping somewhat.


    Minette Reply:

    Use the search bar to search my articles for one on OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder. I don’t think he needs reassurance I think he needs a bit more obedience and something else to focus on


  9. Tracey Ulanski says:

    Comforting works for humans when they are anxious or afraid, but can be detrimental to dogs. To smother a dog with affection and cooing words only enforces his idea that he is acting exactly as you want him to act because you are rewarding him for acting so. You don’t want to reward anxious behavior, it only makes it worse! He needs guidance in this scenario and you are his guide. He looks to you for behavioral cues and rewarding anxious behavior with comforting petting and sounds actually reinforces the anxiety because he believes that you are doing what is best for him – when you are actually telling him that it’s OK to be anxious — after all, he is being rewarded! Instead, engage him in some tricks that he already knows, treat him for succeeding; play with him and whenever the anxious stimulus manifests, squeak a ball, throw a treat do anything to pair the bad stimulus with something good like playtime, a game of tug, and rewards for engaging in these activities. He will soon associate the bad stimulus with the positive actions taken during the formative period of the anxiety.


    Minette Reply:

    Obedience can be critical for calming anxiety!


  10. Wendy Slesser says:

    My small dog has started to show quite bad signs of anxiety. I wanted to read your advise article, but because of the picture in the background, I cant rad most of the important bits!


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