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My Dog is Scared of Noises — What Can I Do?

My Dog is Scared of Noises — What Can I Do?

Noise aversion, or the set of anxiety or fear-based behaviors displayed when subjected to “noise triggers”, is a common problem for dogs. In fact, in a recent survey, 67% of dogs exhibit at least one sign of noise aversion[1].

This fear of noises can negatively affect your dog’s quality of life. Noise phobias increase stress in dogs, which can lead to several problems, like diarrhea, destructive behaviors, and even self-injury.

Your dog might show you that they’re scared of noises in a variety of ways.

Signs of noise aversion in dogs[2]:

  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Lip licking
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Panting
  • Excessive alertness or hypervigilance
  • Cowering
  • Hiding
  • Brow furrowed or ears back
  • Freezing or immobility
  • Owner seeking behavior or excessive clinginess
  • Refusing to eat
  • Yawning
  • Vocalizing (whining or barking at the sounds)
  • Escape behaviors

You may not recognize these behaviors as signs that your dog is frightened by the noise, so use this checklist to see if your dog suffers from noise aversion. Take it to your veterinarian so that your dog can be diagnosed and start to receive treatment.

Things you can do at home to help calm a dog scared of noises:

  • Mask the noise. Play music, audiobooks, or white noise to mask and drown out the noises they’re afraid of.
  • Set up a safe space. Encourage your dog to go to an area such as a basement, closet, or bathroom, where the noise is not as loud. These areas can be safe havens for your dog; once the noise begins, your dog can retreat to this area and feel relatively safe. By feeding your dog treats or putting their favorite toys in the designated safe haven in between noise events, you can get your dog accustomed to going to these areas.
  • Be present. Your presence is comforting to your dog.
  • Act normal. Rather than paying attention to the noise, play with your dog, read a book or watch TV. Try not to get worked up or anxious yourself, as your dog can sense and feed off of your anxiety.
  • Distract them. You can try to distract them from the noise by feeding them, having them work on a puzzle toy, giving them treats, or working on training.

If your dog typically gets scared during certain noise events (such as thunder or fireworks), you can proactively begin counterconditioning and desensitization training to help them get more comfortable and accepting of the sounds. Ask your veterinarian for help with implementing these techniques.

These recommendations will help you and your dog cope better during the noise event. But since noise aversion is itself a medical condition, your veterinarian, may also recommend medications to treat your dog’s noise aversion.

Medications to help your dog cope with noise aversion

It is important to speak to your veterinarian about your dog’s noise aversion, because dogs do not outgrow this condition and without treatment, the signs can get worse or your dog may develop additional behavioral problems. Additionally, it is important to realize that while your dog is showing signs of noise aversion, they are experiencing something like a person having a panic attack. In other words, they are distressed and suffering. Although modifying your home and using behavior modification techniques can help, medication can be one of the most humane, easiest, and most effective ways to help improve your dog’s quality of life.

  • Encourage your dog to go to an area such as a basement, closet, or bathroom, where the noise is not as loud. These areas can be safe havens for your dog; once the noise begins, your dog can retreat to this area and feel relatively safe. By feeding your dog treats or putting their favorite toys in the designated safe haven in between noise events, you can get your dog accustomed to going to these areas.   
Sharon L. Campbell, DVM, MS, DACVIM

Sharon L. Campbell, DVM, MS, DACVIM

Dr. Campbell received her DVM degree from University of Wisconsin and completed a residency in internal medicine and a Master’s Degree at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. She was a Clinical Instructor at the University of Tennessee for 2 years, then worked at a private referral hospital for many years before joining Zoetis, where she is a Medical Lead for the pain management, anesthesia, sedation, behavior and anti-infectives portfolio of medications.

Dr. Campbell is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. She is Fear Free Certified and is on the Fear Free Advisory Board.

Important Safety Information: Do not use SILEO in dogs with severe cardiovascular disease, respiratory, liver or kidney diseases, or in conditions of shock, severe debilitation, or stress due to extreme heat, cold or fatigue or in dogs hypersensitive to dexmedetomidine or to any of the excipients. SILEO should not be administered in the presence of preexisting hypotension, hypoxia, or bradycardia. Do not use in dogs sedated from previous dosing. SILEO has not been evaluated in dogs younger than 16 weeks of age or in dogs with dental or gingival disease that could have an effect on the absorption of SILEO. SILEO has not been evaluated for use in breeding, pregnant, or lactating dogs or for aversion behaviors to thunderstorms. Transient pale mucous membranes at the site of application may occur with SILEO use. Other uncommon adverse reactions included emesis, drowsiness or sedation. Handlers should avoid direct exposure of SILEO to their skin, eyes or mouth. Failure to lock the ring-stop on the syringe before dosing SILEO could potentially lead to an accidental overdose. Always review INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE before dispensing and dosing. See full Prescribing Information.


  1. The Harris Poll: Custom Motion Sickness and Noise Aversion Omnibus Pet Owner Quantitative Research Report, December 2018.
  2. Zoetis: Foster Rosenblatt Noise Aversion Research; February 5th, 2016.

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