Blue could be described as a little bit of a nut case. He is a very high energy dog and tends to be quite reactive. Like most dogs, he absolutely hates the mailman, barking and sprinting around the house everyday between 10 & 2. He hides in the closet during every thunderstorm, and cries during fireworks season in the summer. These are all normal stressors for dogs, either the desire to protect his family or loud noises are an obvious explanation for the behaviors. However, there are some reactions that do not make as much sense. For example, every time the Happy Birthday song is sung in our house, he goes ballistic! He also hates when people sneeze, run up and down the stairs, or laugh too loudly. Most his unique behavioral triggers seem to be noise related, and research has been done to find solutions for similar reactions in dogs.
One possible solution for dogs with high anxiety and noise sensitivity is the use of Dog-Appeasing Pheromones (DAP), which are naturally excreted by female dogs during lactation and help soothe puppies when they are around their mother (Landsberg et al., 2015). DAP has been used in stressful environments such as kennels, as well as in testing with recorded thunder to stimulate fear and anxiety, and it has been proven to display calming qualities (Landsberg et al., 2015). A DAP collar was created to allow for easy use in homes, like a flea collar, and it was found that the combination of the DAP collar and the availability of a hide/den reduced fearful reaction to thunder (Landsberg et al., 2015). Giving dogs familiar, calming pheromones as well as a place to feel secure allows for better control of fear and anxiety towards common noises that could trigger such a response.
Another option for noise-phobia reaction management is imepitoin, a drug that is normally used for epilepsy control in dogs but can also help reduce fear and
anxiety. The drug was tested over New Year’s Day to observe reactions toward firework sounds from dogs that were taking imepitoin versus a placebo (Engel et al., 2019). It was found that anxious reactions were significantly reduced in dogs taking imepitoin, and there were minimal signs of negative reactions towards the drug, none of which caused owners to withdrawal their dogs from the test. The lowered signals of stress to the loud noise shows the efficacy of imepitoin for dogs with noise-phobia (Engel et al., 2019).
Blue would most likely benefit from the DAP collar, and he will be getting one soon! Hopefully he has a positive experience and his anxious/fearful reactions towards everyday noises will be reduced.
Engel, O., Müller, H. W., Klee, R., Francke, B., & Mills, D. S. (2019). Effectiveness of imepitoin for the control of anxiety and fear associated with noise phobia in dogs. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 33(6), 2675–2684. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.15608
Landsberg, G. M., Beck, A., Lopez, A., Deniaud, M., Araujo, J. A., & Milgram, N. W. (2015). Dog-appeasing pheromone collars reduce sound-induced fear and anxiety in beagle dogs: a placebo-controlled study. The Veterinary record, 177(10), 260. https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.103172