Greeting “Big Dog” Blog followers! I hope you had a nice holiday. I surely did, but it was chaotic at times with three other dogs, and two little girls ages 6 and 2! The house was definitely noisy and cluttered. On the up side, however, there was an above average amount of food that fell to the floor and of course needed to be picked up. J
Today I want to share some information with you that I’ll bet you don’t often consider. It’s about all those loud noises in our world today and how they affect us dogs. Even though you often attribute us with human characteristics, we do function differently in lots of ways. So hopefully this can help you appreciate what we need to help us deal with this big bustling world.
Dogs notice how excited humans get during holidays, like our recent Christmas celebration, New Year’s Eve coming up this weekend, 4th of July, birthdays … even Super Bowl parties. Now that I’ve turned 7, I’ve pretty much figured out when the noise is going to happen around our house and where I can go to minimize its effects on my sensitive ears. But younger dogs … especially puppies after 3 weeks, don’t have a clue … and it can be quite traumatizing.
You see as puppies, we’re deaf at birth and can’t hear until we’re about 3 weeks old. Once our hearing is completely developed, however, we can hear about 4 times better than humans. This means I can hear a sound in the house from 80 feet, that you won’t likely hear it until it’s within 20 feet. You humans generally detect frequencies from 31 to 19,000 Hz whereas we can hear from 64 to 44,000 Hz. Certain sounds drive us especially crazy. Very high frequencies, thunder, other dogs barking or howling, vacuum cleaners, crying babies, sirens and alarms of all kinds can make us skittish.
Did you know we have 18 different muscles that control our external ears? Humans have just 6 allowing you to move yours minimally. On the other hand, we’re able to perk ours up, move them towards what we’re trying to hear, lay them back, and generally adjust what we’re able to hear.
By just being a little more mindful about the sounds we encounter in our homes, cars, and when we’re outside in the neighborhood, you can add greatly to our peace of mind!
Veterinarians and government officials tell us noisy holidays are when more dogs run away from their homes. The terror experienced can be of such magnitude dogs have been known to crash through glass to get away. Once outside the familiarity of our home, we’re at much higher risk of theft, injury, or even death.
When you’re preparing for holidays or events where you know there’s going to be a lot of loud noises, simply think about the effects these sounds might have on us. Some people put their dogs in a secluded room as far away from the noise as possible, but this doesn’t necessarily reduce fear. We feel more secure when we’re close to you, so sometimes just reassuring us, or letting us sit close to you is all we need. The main thing is to simply anticipate what sounds might create anxiety or fear in us and be prepared to take action that helps us feel more secure.
Recently, one of the more popular methods of soothing us during times of loud noises is the so-called “thunder coat.” No one is quite sure why this brings a sense of security, but for many dogs it reduces their panting, pacing, and overall stress and anxiety. Placing such a coat on a dog well ahead of anticipated noises can make all the difference.
For dogs not accepting of a thunder coat, there’s an array of naturally-sourced, herb-based products available in chewable treat form. These won’t “knock your dog out” but they may well act as a soothing agent. Check with your veterinarian on one they might recommend. Generally, you can give as much as is needed without harmful side effects. Cesar Millan, the well-known Dog Whisperer, recommends using a lavender essential oil as a calming agent. Place just a drop on the far backside of the dog as well as the underneath portion of their bedding. Just be careful to not get it near the face.
Well, I hope this information was useful. I know your dog will appreciate your following these recommendations to make their celebrations as enjoyable as possible.
Happy New Year, and we’ll see you back here in 2017!