Noise Phobia

Just like every dog is different, every behaviour case I see is different. This is a summary of one particular behaviour consultation I had with Lyn and her family, whose 18month Jack Russel Terrier Buddy was suffering from a noise phobia.

Lyn and her family had never had any problem’s with Buddy until very recently. He seemed to suddenly change overnight.

Lynn had taken Buddy to the Vets for his annual vaccinations and that same evening while he was in the lounge and his owners sat watching television he started to become frantic circling the room cumulating with him running out extremely scared/fearful. Buddy wouldn’t settle that night and every night since that initial incident he will not venture into the lounge. Previously he has always sat on the sofa with his owners during the evening quite happily. What the owners were finding really hard to understand was that Buddy was still extremely happy to be in the lounge at any time during the day, it was only when his owners finished tea and settled down on the sofa for the evening in the lounge that he suddenly became anxious.

Lynn and her partner were assuming it was all connected to the visit to the Vets. After chatting to them both in detail it emerged that Buddy had always had a slight underlying dislike of loud noises. Although he had learnt to cope or manage his noise phobia it was this particular night which tipped him over the edge so to speak. The owners then remembered that on the evening prior to the visit to the vets a particular program that they had been watching had been filled with constant loud shooting which went on for a good half an hour, Buddy had been in the room (probably becoming more and more anxious but continuing to stay on the sofa next to the owners for reassurance at the time) and this had obviously exasperated his noise phobia.

The owners had tried to treat the problem themselves by introducing a crate into the lounge and putting Buddy into this during the evening, apparently he was extremely distressed and so hence it would have made the problem worse.

On further talking to Lynn it emerged that Lynn’s mother (who lived in a different part of the house) was fussing him and giving him treats regularly so Buddy would have no need or inclination to go into the lounge during the evenings, he was getting attention in a place he felt far more relaxed in during the evening.

After understanding the cause of the problem I then suggested some ways we could help Buddy to deal with it.

Sometimes with noise phobia it is necessary to prescribe some medication along with a behaviour modification program to help to alleviate the physiological symptoms the body will be experiencing during the anxiety attacks. This then allows a window of opportunity in the dogs brain for some new learning to take place. I will never use medication unless I really feel it is necessary to move forward with the problem.

With Buddy I suggested to the owners we tried some techniques which would help Buddy to start to associate the lounge with pleasant things at a rate he could cope with and try this without any medication. The owners worked hard doing the things that I suggested and along with also using some Bach natural flower remedy  he is now back to settling happy in the lounge once again.