Hold the Phon-ophobia! Help for Noise Sensitive Pets
Some pets are fearful of sudden and loud noises (such as thunderstorms, fire works, hot air balloons). This condition is called Phonophobia and can manifest in a number of problem behaviours:
- Increased vocalisation (barking, howling etc)
- Destructive behaviour
- Running away
- Hypervigilant behaviour.
A phobia is a maladaptive fear response that is out of proportion to the threat, meaning that in some cases your pet’s response may even place them in danger (think: running away from home or extreme efforts to hide). Whilst the fear response is generally proportional to the intensity of the noise, it can also be increased by previous bad experiences.
What NOT to do
- Punish or reprimand – Your pet is not behaving this way to be naughty, their behaviour comes from a place of fear. Infact, punishment will often increase anxiety and make matters much worse!
- Make a big deal out of it – It’s natural to want to reassure our stressed pets, but by being overly attentive you could be inadvertently reinforcing the fearful behaviour, making it more likely to occur again.
Some things that you can do to help your pets through a scary event
- Feed them high value treats
- Turn the TV on or play calming music in the background
- Provide them, with a “safe spot” that is dark and quiet
- Use of Adaptil spray/collars or thunder shirts may be beneficial
How can we help?
If your pet’s anxiety levels are so high that they are not eating or have caused serious damage to themselves or property, and if the methods above have failed in the past, it’s time to talk to the experts.