Barking, whimpering, hiding under the bed, scratching at the door: you've witnessed the effects of sounds your dog can't stand and want to avoid them whenever possible. For most dogs, the most irritating sounds fall into a few general categories, and although it's always easiest to simply separate your dog from the source of the aural anxiety, it's not always possible.
Loud Startling Noises
Unsurprisingly, loud startling noises, such as fireworks and thunder, can make your sensitive canine companion crazy! However, puppies and dogs can be trained to overcome their negative responses to even the most abrupt noise, with time and patience. By first identifying and then recording the offending clammer and later replaying it to your dog repeatedly and at increasing volume, your companion should become at least familiar enough with the sound to mitigate the negative response.
Unfamiliar noises, such as the cries of a newborn baby you've just brought into your shared home, can annoy and frustrate your pet. Add to that the possibility that your dog may associate this noise with other negative changes to the environment, such as getting less of your time and attention than before, and the dog's response to this sound may become unbearable. As is the case with loud noises, dogs can be trained to endure the unfamiliar disturbance by replaying a recording of it at gradually increasing volume. Note to expecting parents: In the case of a baby's cries, it's a good idea to begin this training before the new arrival rather than after.
Anything with a motor can whip your dog into an absolute state, so learn to either put him outside first, or delay your use of irritating appliances until he's at a safe distance. Vacuum cleaners are notorious for their ability to frighten dogs, regardless of the brand, while other sources of motorized affliction for your pet include dishwashers, drills, blenders, lawnmowers and the much reviled band saw. But when it comes to that, can you blame them?
Noises Only Dogs Can Hear
Dogs are sensitive to higher frequency sounds and can actually hear sounds up to frequencies of 45 kilohertz, which humans cannot. Although it is uncommon and unlikely to persist, dogs have been known to respond negatively to high frequency sound. Some researchers, such as Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., have even suggested dogs become anxious prior to seismic events, including earthquakes and avalanches, because of their ability to detect sound at these higher frequencies.
D.H. Blandings is a writer and award-nominated editor based in Ottawa, Canada. Working mainly in the corporate sector, she also writes about species at risk for a local not-for-profit animal sanctuary. She has degrees from the University of Toronto and Concordia University, and is pursuing a publishing certificate at Ryerson University.