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Noise Anxiety in Vizslas

by Lu Hart


A VizslaTalk reader had a question about her dog that was extremely anxious at loud noises. She wrote "I know you are not supposed to comfort a noise-crazy dog to make it worse"

Forget that ! They NEED comforting, Yes, you should be calm and matter-of-fact -- no baby voices, no "Oh you poor dear " stuff -- but the dog IS terrified, it only makes good sense to hold them. I get a lightweight blanket and drape over the dog and my lap while I sit there and read or watch TV or whatever. I speak to the dog only when it calms a bit, and then I tell it -- in very CONFIDENT, calm, cheerful tones -- "That's right, you're safe here under your blanket". I work at making that blanket the dog's security object. If I have to be away when noise is expected, I crate the dog with its "magic" blanket draped over the outside of the crate and put the radio on LOUD -- the classical station is best. Close shades and leave lights on so that the dog can't tell whether there is lightning around. Be sure to use lots of fabric softener when you wash that blanket -- static electricity is one of the things that bothers them during storms.

I usually have to give up the rest of my life and just hold dog the first few storms, but as time goes on they become able to drift off to sleep under their blanket and let me move around. If they get up and follow you, they weren't ready for you to leave yet. If you project a feeling of complete confidence and relaxation, the dog will gradually begin to follow your lead and not get so panicky. I do not expect to "cure" a dog like that. I expect them to always dislike and fear loud noises, especially thunderstorms and gunfire. But I also expect to achieve a dog that can "say" "Gee, I HATE that, I'm going to get under my blanket and wait until it's over and then it will be all right" -- as opposed to a dog that runs around in a blind panic. And I usually achieve that surprisingly fast -- perhaps because I am not asking them to deny their fear, just to learn to handle it. ;-)

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