What are some examples of sounds that noise-phobic dogs fear?
• Loud voices
• Backfiring cars
• Skateboard wheels
• Car doors
• Musical instruments
These are just some of the sounds to which dogs can show sensitivity. However, a dog can develop a fear of just about any sound, no matter how loud or how soft. Dogs that experience sensitivity to certain sounds may pant, shiver, salivate or even attempt to escape. For severe fears (or sound phobias) this can lead a dog to injure herself. There are different reasons a dog can develop sound sensitivity.
Dogs have an acute sense of hearing. Not only are sounds much louder to a dog’s ears, a dog can hear sounds that are much higher pitched than humans can, so what you hear may be drastically different than what your dog hears during a thunderstorm or fireworks display.
Other possible reasons include:
• Genetic predisposition: Certain breeds, especially the herding ones, are more likely to develop sound-sensitivity: Border collies, Australian cattle dogs, Australian shepherds, Shetland sheepdogs and German shepherds. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it is uncertain whether it’s caused by genetics or if they just have more acute hearing than members of other breeds.
• Atmospheric Changes: Dogs have more sensitive noses and ears, so smells, barometric pressure changes and static electricity—such as the combination of wind, rain and thunder– can all unnerve a dog
• Learned Sensitivity: In some cases, a fear of noises may have developed after a dog had a negative experience that he associates with a specific noise, such as getting the tail stuck in a car, making the dog fearful the sound of car doors slamming shut.
People can also unknowingly reinforce a fear by coddling or attempting to comfort the dog with praise or treats when he gets nervous. That actually teaches him that his fears are legitimate and, what can start out as a mild case of nerves can develop into a full-blown phobia.