Fears of fireworks and other loud noises

By Rachel Casey | training, noise, behaviour, fear, dog, puppy

How common are noise fears in dogs?

Recent research suggests that fear of loud noises are very common in the dog population. In fact almost half of dog owners reported their dog reacted to loud noises by showing signs of fear or anxiety, such as trembling or hiding. More research is needed in this area, but these findings are pretty worrying for the welfare of our dogs – it means that potentially 5 million dogs in the UK are worried by noises they hear.

Which noises cause the greatest problem?

More owners report fears in response to fireworks than other noises, as might be expected. Fireworks are loud and bright, and from dogs’ point of view, they occur without any warning, and for no apparent reason! Other loud and unpredictable noises such as thunderstorms and gunshots were the next most frequent causes of fear reactions.

What do dogs do when they are scared?

Owners tend to seek help when their dog shows an extreme response to noises, or when this impacts on their lifestyle. Some dogs have responses which are quite difficult to cope with, such as pulling all the contents of a cupboard out and clambering inside, hiding under the bed, running from room to room, trembling, shaking or toileting. When dogs hear loud noises outside, they can run away from their owners in panic, potentially across roads or into other dangerous situations.

However, other dogs show much more subtle signs. In these cases, owners may not always recognise there is a problem. These include moving under the table or sofa, being very ‘clingy’ with owners, salivating or licking lips. These dogs may be just as stressed as those that do the dramatic stuff, so its equally important to recognise and treat their fear.