Pro Tips: A Relationship Perspective on the Fear of Loud Noises

Run a web search for ways of dealing with dogs’ fears of loud noises and you’ll come across everything from desensitization techniques to pheromones and prescription drugs. The way I see it, a dog’s capacity to deal with anything scary depends on the strength of its bond with its human. Period. This includes but is not limited to stress caused by noises such as the fireworks we can expect this fall. A truly bonded dog is not necessarily immune to stress, but it deals with things a lot more constructively.

How I handle dogs during these potentially stressful episodes depends on the stage of our relationship. Young dogs, dogs with behavioral issues, and fosters in decompression are crated routinely and therefore would be crated before a noise such as fireworks begins. Doing this teaches dogs three things:

  1. To ride things out on their own and grow in independence and maturity.
  2. To trust in the human who recognizes that dogs at this stage are not yet able to deal wisely.
  3. To show strength in the face of stress for the reward of being integrated into our heart and home.

My own dog Maya, whom you can read about on my website, never quite got used to loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks. However, she dealt with things a lot more maturely once we became tightly bonded. Sensing that a noisy night was upon us, she’d give me the knowing look, wish me good evening, and head down to her crate in the basement for the night. She knew her limits and could be trusted in dealing with them positively. Even more importantly, she knew I did not need her to be with me.