When Noise Annoys (continued)
‘Home Alone’ Therapies
The most important goal is to provide Whizzer with a sound-proof and escape-proof den which he can enter during the day, or in which he can be confined if needed.
Luckily, a down-stairs rumpus room was available and, being a brick house, it was already reasonably sound-proof. A dog door was installed and Whizzer was trained to love this room through the use of the Denning Principle and the No Bored Dogs routine – both are available from this website. Being under the house, the room was comfortably cool.
Further sound-proofing was provided with slabs of foam rubber cut to fit the window cavities, thus preventing sound from entering. The rubber also stopped the visible components of the lightning and the firework rockets.
On ‘normal’ days where no noises were expected, Whizzer was allowed free access to the garden via the dog door. On days when storms were possible or when evening fireworks were likely, he was confined to the rumpus room. At these times, a radio was played in an attempt to mask any external noises and, in due course, a thunderstorm CD was also played to him each day to get him used to such noises.
‘When Home’ Therapies
When the owners were home, they were asked to bring Whizzer inside at the earliest signs of fear. The TV was turned on and they tried to keep Whizzer in the most sound-proof room of the house, which happened to be their bedroom.
I taught them how to use a high-energy game called the circle of commands which is available from this site, to distract Whizzer when his fears started. Luckily, Whizzer loved food treats and balls and these presented a strong lure for him to play games rather than to focus on his fears. Using the circle of rewards his parents found that, progressively, Whizzer learnt to cope with the storms with greater ease.
Medications and Pheromones
Whizzer needed the protection of anti-anxiety medication. He was placed onto two medications, one the owners used when they were able to predict that a storm or noise event was likely and another for daily use for a few months to reduce his anxiety to the lowest level possible. Thankfully, anti-anxiety medications have very few worrisome side-effects.
The Adaptil Dog Appeasing Pheromone diffuser was also installed in his Den to make the rumpus room into a peaceful location and to make him happy to spend more time in this room. For animals with a strong sense of smell, pheromones have very powerful benefits when used correctly, and they have no side-effects.
Desensitisation to Noises
Lastly, Whizzer was desensitised to the noises that worried him by using high-quality sound effects via his parent’s CD player.
Initially, the sound effects were used when Whizzer’s parents were home. Then, when his parents were sure he could tolerate them, the sound effects were played continuously while Whizzer was in his Den when his parents were away. Using this strategy, Whizzer was exposed to noises every day, but at a very low volume. He got used to the noises, just like people living near a railway line become accustomed to the sound of trains.
Handling noise fears is not easy. Whizzer’s case was an interesting one, but each case is different. Some are easy and some are very difficult.