Noise Phobia

Posted by linda-cooper
Sep 19, 2016
I have a 9 month old Spinone bitch. She developed noise phobia when I took her in town to get her used to traffic as she showed signs of really being upset by it. A lorry with a metal trailer came by and she was terrified. Since then she has gradually got worse and I can only take her to the local community field. I can not take her on the streets at all. She backs away bucking and pulling and somersault s I have tried head collars, and full harness and do every thing l can to encourage her. She has been on Zylkene now for 2 months because the noise phobia has developed to being afraid of almost every thing. Strangely enough not thunder. Any suggestions would be appreciated as l'm running out of ideas?
Posted by Preethi KOP
Sep 21, 2016
Hi Linda,

Sorry to hear about the noise-phobia issue with your pet. It is very strange that she is okay with thunder!

I guess the key to sorting out her issue is desensitising her to her stressors. Firstly, I would recommend a recheck with a veterinarian who has specialised in animal behaviour - it could be that the medication she is currently on isn't one that will work for her and she may even need the dose altered.

Now coming to the other things you can do at home:

1. Desensitize her - find a good quality recording of traffic sounds - play it very softly for a few hours each day and gradually increase the volume it is played at. If she is really stressing when you begin playing it, try doing so when she is distracted by food (chews are great for this!), toys, playtime, etc.

2. Next comes distraction - As soon as you see signs of distress, get her to focus on you using food, toys, etc. - give her the sit, stay command and then reward her listening to you.

3. Have her crate trained - give her a 'safety' den to go to when she is feeling stressed - this will help when you are not around to distract her i.e. leaving the recording of traffic sounds playing while you are not at home - further down the track of desensitization obviously.

4. Use things like the DAP collar eg. adaptil ('calm and happy dog pheromones') in addition to the other medication she is on.

5. Work on alpha training and socialisation to build up her confidence. Having her in the company of a dog that is not perturbed by the sounds will help ease her fears - this is only once the desensitization process is completed.

6. Lastly, but most importantly - take it all in puppy steps! If you find her over-reacting to step 2, take it a step back!

Patience and perseverance will win over her fears. Please do keep us posted on your progress and don't hesitate to write back if you have any queries.

Good luck!

Posted by linda-cooper
Sep 23, 2016
This all started at 4 months so l have been doing the desensetising for 5 months now. Zylkene has worked for her where other things haven't. Everyone says she is so much better than she was. Because of the pulling l am doing the change direction walks in the car park by the community field. Not so successful yet but that is early days. One of the big problems is other dogs that are "in your face" types that also chase her. So far no permanent damage but she comes back once the other dog gives up but she is shaking from nose to tail. She has special music to listen to and I've downloaded lots of traffic and other noises for her but once outside, even in the garden she is stressed. It took her 8months to lie down in the garden but as soon as a car drives by she rushes in. Agree that it is very much baby steps. When stressed she won'the even look at food let alone eat it. She also has her safe place.
Posted by Preethi KOP
Sep 26, 2016
Hi Linda,

Thanks for your reply.

It is great that you are tackling the issue from all the necessary angles. It sounds like she is improving, so it is probably just a time thing now. Have you looked into getting her a head halti - they are a fantastic tool for dogs that pull on the leash. I suggest you take the traffic sounds to the yard next - played softly to begin with. Might also be worthwhile taking her out at a time when there are fewer stressors outside - both other dogs and traffic.

All the best! Don't lose hope, you are doing great!!

Posted by linda-cooper
Sep 28, 2016
Yes we do have a halti. When trying to get away she can get out of it. Only just got back to walking her on lead again 2 weeks ago. 1st week ok ish. This week dreadful. Hey ho!
Posted by Preethi KOP
Oct 3, 2016
Onwards and upwards!

Just keep at it, don't lose hope Linda.

Posted by linda-cooper
Oct 6, 2016
Any suggestions on how to get her out of my car when she doesn't want to. My worry is if she needs to go to the vet they don't have a carpark so would have to park some distance away and walk her there. The last time l finally got her there but we couldn't get her out. I had to go and get my car and the vet carried her to my car.!!! She hasn't done any road walking for a couple of months now. Trying to get her out of the car when she doesn't want to is now impossible for me.
Posted by Preethi KOP
Oct 8, 2016
Hi again Linda,

This one is a hard one. I am guessing you have tried using treats as bait and they do not overcome the fear?

I guess training her to get in and out of the car on your command at home would be somewhere to start - it may or may not work, you will just have to give it a good shot. The other thing would be to make the trips to the vet more frequently, just to get her used to it. Take her in to the reception area, give her a treat and then take her back out.

Otherwise, ask your vet for some add-on calming meds, to use as a one-off for vet visits, etc. This will likely be a more realistic solution.

All the best!