Saving your pooch from loud noises!

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Varsha Verma with Rocky
Loud noises can traumatise your dog and make him nervous. He can become aggressive and lose appetite. Here’s how you can take care of your pooch during festive time. –by Varsha Verma
At some point or other, all pet parents boast of how your dog knows you have arrived even before you ring the door bell. We all have seen our dog’s ears prick up all of a sudden, even though you haven’t heard a faint sound. My pet dog Rocky starts wagging his tail and looks outside the window with anticipation all of a sudden. It is after a while that I see his friend Pomeranian walking with her pet parent. Even if I am in the other room, opening his favourite pack of dog treat, he comes running for the same. That’s the power of their ears!

The hearing charm…
Dogs have a sensitive hearing; they can hear sounds four times farther away than we can. They can hear higher frequency sounds and know where it is originating from. They can even differentiate sounds — that’s why they know when your car has arrived!
Humans can hear sounds that vibrate at less than 20,000 vibrations per second (20,000Hz) while dogs can hear sounds of up to 50,000 vibrations per second (50,000Hz). What’s more? At high frequencies, dogs can hear much softer sounds. Thus, they can even hear sounds which cannot be heard by humans (less than 0 decibels).
The anatomy of dog’s ears…
Dogs ears are controlled by 18 muscles, while our ears by controlled by only six muscles. That explains why we cannot move our ears much while our dogs can move their ears in the direction of the sound. To hear better, they even tilt and rotate their ears so that sound reaches the inner ear efficiently.
The downside…
Though it is an amazing power of our dogs, it is a matter of concern as well. Dogs can get stressed by sounds they hear. Ever wondered why your dog runs away when you switch on the vacuum cleaner or when a power drill is on. It is because they sound much louder to them because of their hearing power.
Their problem multiplies when people burst crackers during festive season. My pet Rocky becomes so miserable during festive time that he stops eating and vet has to prescribe some tranquillisers to soothe his nerves. It might be the same for other dogs as well.
How dogs look at crackers?
From a dog’s perspective, a cracker seems like a bomb. They get scared with loud noise and sometimes try to run out. Some dogs get lost in the frenzy, while few may even get involved in an accident and get hurt. They get nervous, stop eating and even snap back at humans.
The plight of strays is even worse. They hide under the cars or other parked vehicles and sometimes children roll burning crackers that land just near their hiding place, putting them in a very dangerous situation. There are so many instances of unruly kids tying crackers to their tails and lighting them up. That’s a total nightmare!
Tips to help dogs during festive time
Say No to crackers: Crackers are bad for everyone — they pollute the air and they are harmful to humans as well. If each one of us can say ‘No to Crackers’ as the world would indeed be a better place to live.
Do not scold your dog or punish him: If your dog is scared of loud noises, do not scold him or punish him. He is already stressed, it will only add to his stress.
Tire your dog out: When your dog is tired, he is more likely to sleep. So, before people start bursting crackers, tire your dog out. Take him out for a long walk, let him run, pay with him… let him spend him energy.
Give him a heavy meal: Dogs tend to lose appetite when they are scared. So, feed them before the crackers time. Give him a heavy meal so that he can sleep peacefully.
Sensitise him to loud noises: You need to start the process well before festivals. Introduce him to loud sounds slowly and gradually with the use of recorded sounds. Increase the loudness gradually as your dog becomes accustomed to it.
Keep them indoors: Always keep your dog indoors during this time. Never leave him unattended as he may run out.
Dog proof your house: Since dogs are scared at this time, they tend to hide under beds, tables and other corners of the house. Keep them clean and put dangerous things out of their way.
Keep doors and windows closed: To decrease the intensity of the sounds, keep doors and windows closed.
Place carpet on floor: To reduce the vibrations of loud noises, put carpets or cushions on the floor so that your pet can sit on it.
Give him a treat/toy: Distract him by giving him his favourite treat or toy.
Let him rest: If your dog has chosen to sit under the bed, let him alone. Do not force him to come out.
Reassure him: Do not panic on seeing his reaction. Be cheerful, play with him and reassure him that everything will be alright.
Play some soothing music: Mask the noises outside by playing some white noise. You can find CDs for the same.
Use earplugs: If possible, put ear plugs in your dog’s ears.
Give him clean drinking water: You might need to remind him to drink water from time to time.
Put an identification tag around his neck: Your contact details should be there on the tag, just in case your dog gets lost during this time.
Talk to your vet: If you think your dog is very stresses, talk to your vet. He might help him with some tranquilisers or sedatives.
Be there for him: Do not leave him alone during this time. He needs you close to him.
Help the strays too: If possible, give them shelter during this time. Help them if you find them injured or distressed.
Start awareness against crackers in your area: Spread the word. Make people understand the disadvantages of bursting crackers.