How much, and what kind of noises are your dogs subjected to? I say “subjected,” because so much of the soundscape surrounding our dogs is negative. Between high pitched whines from electronics (some of which we can’t hear ourselves), loud televisions or music, traffic noises (city), chain saws and tractors (country), groups of people laughing at parties, dish washers churning, there is a lot of noise out there.
Noisy soundscapes have a cost–to us for sure, but also to our dogs. Here’s a summary from an article by Basner et. al., 2014 about the effects of noise exposure on human health.
“Observational and experimental studies have shown that noise exposure leads to annoyance, disturbs sleep and causes daytime sleepiness, affects patient outcomes and staff performance in hospitals, increases the occurrence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and impairs cognitive performance in schoolchildren.”
I was reminded of this issue thanks to a reader, Vic N, a dedicated Leonberger owner and kick-ass amateur photographer who has graciously provided me with some great pictures and videos through the years. He just lost the noble Vikahn, who you can see in this link illustrating the importance of pauses in dog play between any two dogs, much less ones weighing over 150 pounds.Vic sent me a link to an article by a veterinarian about the value of letting patients and staff in hospitals have a pause, including giving them some quiet time. Mostly after reading it I wanted to stand up and cheer, having been in some hospital settings whose noise and energy exhausted me, and seemed to be the antithesis of a healing environment. The rest of me wanted to stand up and say “REALLY? How is this news?” But I digress.
What I want to emphasize today is the effect of the soundscape on the dogs in our own homes. In 2013 I wrote a post about the importance of managing noise in a shelter setting, but this issue is not just relevant to kennel situations. It’s relevant to all of us with dogs (and cats, and birds, and. . . ?)
How noisy/quiet is it in your house? How much quiet time do your dogs get? Do you know what (not if) electronics in your house emit high pitched whines? (Standard advice here is to unplug as many electronics as you can when not in use. I know, that’s hard, but… if I had a serious behavior problem with a dog I’d try it in an instant.) Our houses are noisier than we think, which is why long walks in quiet places may be extra good for our dogs.
As a person who has been known to walk into a restaurant and immediately turn to leave after being hit with a gwall of noise, I admit to being hyper sensitive to this issue. (I was about to correct the typo “gwall,” but decided the sound of it was exactly how I feel when encountering that kind of noise.) Noise depletes me, even beautiful music after a while can tire me out. And I am very lucky. We live in the country and it’s pretty darn quiet out here. It is NOT silent… there are traffic noises and tractor rumbles and chain saws growls, but compared to most places it is blissfully quiet. No children running around the house, no one practicing drums, and very little traffic down our country road. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to think about what kind of noise my dogs are subjected to.
Of course, many noises are good, like “Wanna treat?”, “Wanna go on a walk?” or “Would you like another martini with your scallops?” It’s up to us to be thoughtful about which ones our dogs hear. (It’s probably best to skip the martini question.) After all, we all know how important sound is in so many ways. I wrote an entire chapter on sound and language in The Other End of the Leash. Alexandra Horowitz, in Inside of a Dog, talks about the senses of dogs, and does a fantastic job reminding us that dogs and people share a lot, but we still live in different worlds.
What about you and your dogs? Are your dogs sound sensitive? Do you think about the noises your dogs hear that you can’t?
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Speaking of noise and the peace of the country, I just heard someone yell “S*&!”, followed by “F#&!”. I believe the S word was repeated. As I looked toward the sound, I saw the mailman drive away, still cursing. I fear he was stung by a wasp looking for a good wintering place in our mailbox. Ouch, poor guy.
That’s how you know it really is fall around here. Not the cursing, but the crazily-active wasps. They were all over the fallen pears that friends of mine and I harvested from a neighbor’s back yard. They will smell a drop of soda pop from forever away; don’t even think about putting your mouth down to an opened can without looking.
But it also means that the fall flowers are in their glory. Besides the yellows of sunflowers, black-eyed susans and goldenrod, it’s all about purple here at the farm.
September has brought a newcomer to the farm, and not a welcome one at that. I’ve looked and looked and can not find the identify of this caterpillar. Anyone?
They were consuming the tops of our our beautiful Pagoda Dogwoods like me at a movie with a bucket of popcorn. (Jim and I picked and picked and picked them off , using a rake to get to the higher branches, but we can’t get to all of them). They are voracious plant predators, and if I could just give them a name I just might replicate the noises of the mailman…
Ah well, that’s fall. Wasps, caterpillars, beautiful flowers, cool nights, clouds of mosquitos given new life after our floods, and a bucket full of apples turning into applesauce in the oven. I’m trying to be grateful for all of it. Just close your ears if I get stung getting the mail. . .
Looks like the caterpillar could be the dogwood sawfly.
We had a small earthquake a couple of days ago and about 15 minutes beforehand my dog let out one single bark (didn’t have a chance to observe her behaviour otherwise as it was 5:45am and I wasn’t about to jump out of bed and check on my dog over 1 bark). However, after the earthquake came and went it made me wonder if her super senses had her hearing the sound of the plates shifting much earlier than my human ears could! orrrr maybe it was just coincidence 🙂
My corgi hates my MacBook Air. I believe it must make a noise I can’t hear. If I have to work on my laptop Becca gives me a look and goes into her crate. Occasionally she will come out and show appeasing behavior as I’m working. As soon as I shut the laptop, she pops out of her crate very happy. She did not behave this way with my last laptop and doesn’t with my iPad. I’ve researched the problem and talked with our tech guy and have never found an answer. I even tried a decibel meter.
As an ICU nurse for 20 years, I can attest to the negative effects of noise. There are so many alarms dinging all the time, that alarm fatigue is a real phenomenon. I get to the point I still hear them in the shower. My dog and I both enjoy quite rural walks to recharge are batteries. And like another reader said, my dog does not like my MacBook Air, so there must be a noise I can’t hear. If it is as bad as the many alarms at work, then I can see why it would bother my dog.
This is such a great subject and I think about this stuff a lot. One thing I’d like to mention is that not many people consider the sonic effect of the metal tags jangling around their dog’s neck, but for a species with very sensitive high frequency perception I can’t imagine it’s pleasant. One of my vets switched to lightweight alumninum tags, which are *really* high pitched. It’s pretty easy to mitigate this, thankfully, by just wrapping the tags in scotch tape to deaden the sound. Not perfect but definitely an improvement.
Another thing I’d like to mention is that I’ve come to believe that many dogs can handle loud noises, but if it’s perceived as a noise coming from outside their perceived territory/safe space, it can be a lot more threatening. My semi-urban neighborhood is *loud* at times, but I’ve found that my nutty pointer/pit mix can handle it if I mask the noise with louder interior white noise. To be clear, this is not ideal – there’s potential hearing loss there – but in relative silence, even minor outside sounds such as distant car doors slamming can set him off. I’ve always preferred white noise to silence myself, so it’s not a problem for me.
Another inside/outside data point – we have really bad fireworks “holidays” here. It’s not good for anyone except kids and pyromaniacs. My best solution has been to play my most obnoxious, experimental rock music (the Boredoms, in case anyone is interested). It’s erratic and annoying. Yet something about that inside/outside distinction seems to register with my dogs, and they don’t react at all unless I turn the volume down and they hear the (external) fireworks.
I know all this probably sounds awful. But I was in the (loud) music business for some time so I guess I stand by it.
I am another who hates noisy environments, and cannot understand why hospitals do so little to manage noise. Clacking wooden soles and loud voices echoing down corridors through the days and nights are not conducive to a restful recovery, or a peaceful passing…
My two dogs alert me to the tiny noise the phone makes before it rings, to the sound of a delivery van arriving on the estate (but not to neighbours’ and visitors’ cars), and I swear they can tell when Tony across the courtyard even thinks about reaching for his car keys, they are so regularly there waiting when he opens his back door! The super hearing is a bit more troublesome when Sophy can hear shooting more than half a mile away in the fields through thick stone walls and double glazing, though, and trembles at the most distant hint of thunder. They have not shown any reaction to MacBook or other electronic equipment, except flopping down when I open it, and bouncing to attention at the sound of it closing – which reminds me that I should put it away and take them for a good long walk while the sun is shining.
Julie Dorsey-Oskerka says
The best book I read on this subject was by Joshua Leeds, The Power of Sound. “Sound is to the nervous system what food is to our physical bodies”. Reading everything you’ve written and adding this information about how sound affects all living things makes us all better at helping people with their pets. Thanks for this great article!
I have my first noise sensitive dog now. What is curious to me is that he is really lousy at being able to determine where the sound is coming from. If I clap my hands in front of him, he will whip his hand around to try to determine where the noise is coming from. I’m thinking this may be why he is so sound sensitive, it must be scary to not be able to tell where a noise is coming from. He also barks like crazy at sirens and singing. If he was a howler I would think it was adorable, but, nope, it’s just crazy high pitched staccato barking. Yep, he is a very trying dog.
mia friedrich says
Hi Trish, we just got our Leonberger pup about 10 days back. I work from home as a translator of movie subtitles. When I’m alone at home, I usually don’t use headphones. The first thing I noticed – or felt (?) was that the Rike didn’t like to be forced to listen to the sound coming out of the loudspeakers. I was amazed at how instantly I “knew”, almost seconds after she first heard it. I plugged my headphones back in and work with them from now on. Funny thing: My partner only listens to the radio early morning while preparing breakfast. The first morning after we brought the puppy home I come into a quiet kitchen. “Rike doesn’t like the radio, so I turned it off”, my partner said. I didn’t talk to him about my observation at my workstation….. it seems at least our dog clearly lets us know that she doesn’t like the constant noise. We only got the dog now, because we moved out of the city. I wouldn’t want to have a dog in a city. All the noise must be terrible for them. I’m very sensitive as far as noise is concerned, but also with all kind of chemicals and so-called “perfumes” that are everywhere. In the city even the dust smells of perfume. This is another issue that I believe most of our dog companions suffer greatly from. Even I do and we know how dense and dump our noses are in comparison.
Julie H says
I have a border collie who has a noise phobia (no surprise there), but she is very specific in what she is afraid of: thunder and fireworks, yes a little, but mainly metallic noises. Pans clanking (the whole oven is scary), the metal mailbox (she’ll only walk halfway down the driveway), metal file cabinet drawers, metal agility teeters, etc. She generalizes this fear easily. She is afraid when red tailed hawks scream, I think because it sounds like the scream some fireworks make. She also became afraid of the nickname we gave the hawk who flies over our farm regularly. Oddly enough she is fine with power tools, tractors, hammering, other really loud noises.
The other noise issue we have is my other border collie who apparently thinks she’s a sheltie – barks more than any dog I’ve ever had. Arggh, this is MY noise issue.
Kay East says
Simply love this article! My animal friends (to whom I will forward this) and I discuss this often as, even in our small, quaint semi-country town, we are surrounded by a vibrant ag industry with all its modern machinery and, unfortunately, a cement plant 1/2 mile away. What’s with people equipping their pick up trucks and autos with exhaust systems that make them sound like a dragster? Why is it even legal? It is common knowledge that, in general, human-kind is much less considerate of one another now and feel entitled to live as they want, regardless of who they disturb and you might find yourself in a lawsuit or nasty confrontation if you dare ask them to lower their noise level so you and your household can enjoy moments of peace. Fortunately, being retired now, we are able to escape with our dogs to peaceful surrounding hills of our Southern Sierra mountains, forests, lakes and streams several days a week for relief, coming back refreshed and relaxed, streaming our car and home with peaceful sounds of the “Relaxing Music for Dogs” radio mix from Google Play Music.
Dogs who can’t localize sound are often deaf in one ear.. it’s a defining symptom actually. And it IS frightening to not be able to localize sound, people with severe hearing loss talk about how vulnerable it makes them feel. If you can’t hear, how can you know what is happening right behind you, out of your range of vision? The first uni-laterally deaf dog I worked with (undiagnosed at the time) came to me as a “difficult” dog because training was not going well. I happened to notice that when we were behind him and clapped to get his attention he turned toward us but then moved his head right and left, scanning as if he had no idea where the sound had come from. I experimented and found that if we didn’t move, he had no idea where the clapping had come from. Another test you can try–have your dog face twelve o’clock away from you, then sit at 4 or 8 ‘clock. Dogs with no hearing in one ear will turn toward the ear that can hear, even if it means turning 300 degrees. This test is a little iffy-er; best test of course is to have the dog tested at a veterinary facility who can do hearing tests. There’s not much you can do if your dog is deaf in one ear, but it can be helpful to know about it. Keep us posted!
I love that quote!
I sewed our dog’s tags to his collar so they don’t make noise. Plus they don’t wear out as quickly. This is a very helpful article. It makes me think and notice sounds in a new way. Thank you!
Daisy is very sound-sensitive, and it’s fortunate most of the time that we live in a small rural town. Most of the time…duck-hunting season starts October 1 and you can hear the guns in the marshes from our yard, and our daily walk in the woods will have to end until late November, when deer-hunting season ends. I’ll take her out before sunrise and after sunset. Thunder, fireworks, the smoke detector (even when it just beeps when the batteries are low.) Today she followed me into the bathroom and started showing anxiety – I realized my husband had turned the fan on. But when she came to us as a puppy, we were renovating the house so power tools have no effect on her, and she’s the one animal we have who has no fear of the vacuum cleaner! Our Bullmastiff, who has no reaction to any other noise, is terrified of it.
Irina V. says
It’s a sawfly caterpillar (in group with ants/bees/wasps), not a butterfly/moth caterpillar. Most likely the Dogwood sawfly https://bugguide.net/node/view/68065.
Tip here from an extension Master Gardener, whwn you know the plant, look for common pests of that plant. Looks like its this,
Home » Guide » Arthropods (Arthropoda) » Hexapods (Hexapoda) » Insects (Insecta) » Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies (Hymenoptera) » “Symphyta” – Sawflies, Horntails, and Wood Wasps » Common Sawflies (Tenthredinidae) » Allantinae » Allantini » Macremphytus » Dogwood Sawfly (Macremphytus tarsatus)
caterpillars on pagoda dogwood leaves – Macremphytus tarsatus
Copyright © 2015 Janet Allen
caterpillars on pagoda dogwood leaves – Macremphytus tarsatus
One of my dogs was deaf in one ear. He had the hardest time with sound, people, other dogs. Poir guy.
DEB MCGRATH says
One of our Labs behaves very oddly each time we watch a movie, but more particularly if we are watching Netflix. He begins skulking around to hide behind my husband’s chair where there is very little space, and/or goes into the bathroom which is as far away from the living room as he can get. The moment we either shut off the television or resume regular programming he returns to the living room to join us and our two older Labs. We assumed he hears something which we can’t and is much more sensitive to certain sounds both we and our two, eight year old Labs are not.
We allow Toby to stay in the bathroom lying on the rug in front of the vanity, but wonder at times if there might be something else we might do to decrease his anxiety or sensitivity.
Susan Kenney says
My canine friend is Sully, a golden retriever, who “sees” the world with all his senses except for his eyes as he has been blind since birth. We adopted Sully in August 2015 from YGRR when he was 18 months old. He is the joy of our lives and has created an increased awareness in me of details in this world that I was missing by “seeing” with my eyes alone. All of Sully’s senses are refined , perhaps to compensate for his sight loss. Having been blind since birth all his other senses are enhanced, so much so that with sound he can detect sound before it is even audible to me and luckily he is able to pinpoint the direction . And if familiar home sounds have been introduced to him and paired with something he loves he seems to readily identify the sound and shows no concern, such as if I vaccuum I give him a wonderful bone to chew in another room. We are lucky to live in a beautiful rural setting and walk the trails every day . But on walks with others or trips to town when the sounds are increased thru conversation or such I notice that Sully who has the excellent capacity to lead the way on familiar trails, but at times of increased sound he tends to lose his bearings. He is more sensitive to sound and thru his teachings I and others who have come to know him have been blessed with an increased awareness of the power of a whisper, to cue him in or redirect him to another activity should a louder noise be entering the scene when possible. And since he can hear the slightest tapping of feet approaching him and feel that vibration I let people know ahead of time that he could hear them way before they even saw him. He will stop and turn to look back on a trail and sure enough there is a hiker just turning the bend unseen . Of course his other senses are also heightened but it seems that when sound is increased that is one of the few times he loses his bearings and cannot recall his other senses even on familiar trails. For me…I will whisper, will tread lightly when around dogs and will share what I have learned from Sully …he is one awesome dog.
i love your books and this blog! this topic is of interest to me because in my former life, i was a classical pianist. my rescue dog paco came to me the week before i had a chamber music performance; i was worried the timing of his arrival (of which i had no control over) could not be worse, as i had to practice and rehearse with string players 7-9 hours a day…not exactly a calm environment to bring a new, rescue dog into. i think he was so traumatized by the trip he made from alabama to nyc, that i noticed the only time he really slept hard was when i was practicing, because so long as he heard music, he knew exactly where i was (seated at the piano) and could relax. the moment the music stopped, he would wake up and look to see where i was.
i was working on mozart and turn-of-the-century-french music, which i think (?) he enjoyed very much (he would sigh deeply when i worked on those pieces) but i also had one contemporary violin sonata i was working on by alfred schnittke, that had clusters of chords and all manner of atonal sections, not to mention the violin part squealing away in the highest registers. hehe believe me when i say, paco let us know exactly how he felt about this piece: one day as we were running through it, he became agitated and was gnashing his teeth and burrowing his head into his dog bed…he proceeded to go to his toy basket and pull out a loud squeaky red ball. right when we hit the climax of the movement, culminating in a huge atonal cluster on both parts followed by a dramatic pause, he squeezed the ball with all his might in the moment of silence, and with a hard eye focused right on me, spat the ball out at us. my friend and i nearly died of laughter, the timing of it was so perfectly rhythmic.
he much prefers debussy and faure and ravel, mozart, schubert, and bach, and chill jazz. :o) and i am often reminded of the roald dahl short story “edward the conqueror” of the cat who was perhaps franz liszt reincarnated!
Vicki Davis, CAWA says
It’s so very interesting to see what other dogs are sensitive to. My Border Collie mix likes to bark – I think some times she just likes to hear her own voice. But she’s also very predictable when it comes to certain sounds -whether live or coming from the TV. The back-up beeps, whistles blowing in a sports game, and horn honking send her into a barking frenzy as if danger is near. She barely raises an eyebrow over a dog barking or any other animal sounds however
There are certain electronics that really offend her. If my cell phone battery gets just under a full charge or less, she acts like the house is on fire. She’s beside herself and will paw at you as if she wants to crawl inside your body. Ask me how long it took for me to figure out the source of that behavior? And if I get that behavior with my cell phone turned off? It’s probably a smoke detector starting to loose its charge. Heaven forbid if it actually lets out a beep. That’ll send her straight to the bathroom and she jumps in the tub. Familiar with the Modern Family episode that includes a smoke detector beeping throughout the show? I had to finally change the channel! Love her to pieces regardless! And I hope to continue to amaze family and friends for many years to come with our ability to approach the phone before it actually rings!
Paula Flanders says
As someone who is completely deaf in one ear (from birth), I can attest that it can be very startling, scary, and confusing when you can’t identify where a sound is coming from. And yes, I always turn toward my right (good ear) when I’m trying to locate the source of a sound or a voice. Even when I try, I can’t break that habit. As hearing wasn’t routinely tested when I was born, my parents only found out that I couldn’t hear at all out of my left ear when they noticed that if they put the phone to my left ear to “say hello to Gramma” I always switched it to the right side. When asked why, I replied “it doesn’t work on the left.” I thought it was like being right-handed or left-handed. One worked for me, one didn’t.
Our poor Great Dane has been tormented this year by an unusual number of owls living in and around our property. Whooo, Whooo, Whooo, Woof, Woof, Woof, and on and on. I used to really like owls . . .
Dogs Make Us Whole says
Our shelter rescue is sound phobic. The moment I put more than one tag on his collar he could no longer walk. He’s improved but he used to be terrified of squeak toys. He still will not play with toys that squeak. Anything falling to the floor and making noise will send him scrambling.
He was not afraid of fireworks until this past year when we were at the pier one night and someone set off a very loud firework extremely close by. Now he is nervous about those too.
He has multiple behavioral issues, including anxiety (for which we are under treatment by board-certified DVM behaviorist). I suspect that if dogs were evaluated that way he would be regarded as being on the autism spectrum.
what Julie Dorsey-Oskerka said re; Joshua Leeds, YES! “An authority in the field of psychoacoustics—the study of the effects of music and sound on the human nervous system….” Joshua & Lisa Spector, concert pianist & Juilliard graduate, founded “Through a Dog’s Ear”. Because they have created music for cats & people too last year they changed to iCalm Pet. Their music is played in shelters nationwide. I’ve played their music for my pets for years with success when thunderstorms roll in and around 4th of July fireworks.
AND (I’ll be giving a clue as to my age bracket) I remember as a kid it was mandatory “SHHHH!” at medical facilities & libraries. I have long wondered whatever happened to the “QUIET, HOSPITAL ZONE” signs.
Erika Liljefelt says
The older I’ve gotten, the more sensitive I’ve become to noise. When I’m home alone, I either have it completely quiet or sometimes meditation music on if there’s outside noise to which my dogs are reacting. I hadn’t thought about the noises that humans can’t hear emitted from the numerous electronics in our home, but it makes perfect sense. My 15-month-old Heeler apparently has bionic hearing because she looks as if she can hear things that not even my other two dogs hear. We’ve got some reactivity going on to some degree with each dog, so I’m going to start unplugging everythingwhen not in use. It certainly won’t hurt! Thank you!
I just about died laughing reading this!
Good for you! I can’t imagine how irritating jingling tags must be to some dogs. I eliminate that noise too. (Collars with your phone number sewed in are a great helper, although I wish they made them smaller.)
Such variety in responses, right? I moved heaven and earth this summer during major remodeling to desensitize the dogs to the sounds of construction (rather than sensitize). It all worked beautifully, but it was a four month long exercise in planning every morning. Thank heavens I could take the dogs to my office.
Thanks! So appreciative of all the expertise out there.
Kim, you Master Gardener you… Please come to my yard and advise me about the eight million questions I have about the four million things I’d like to do in the garden. Won’t take but a minute.
Ah! You just reminded me that Maggie went into Willie’s crate in the other room recently on a rare night when we were watching Netflix (no, it was Apple TV, iTunes). Never occurred to me that a different ‘channel’ might change the noises emitted from the TV. Is that possible or am I crazy?
Re your question about Toby and Netflix: If it was me, I’d pro-actively put Toby in the bathroom with a chew toy before turning on Netflix. He’s telling you that’s where he is most comfortable, so let him lead the way.
Such a valuable perspective, thanks so much for adding to the discussion. And sloppy kisses to Sully, he sounds like a bit of his own kind of hero.
I want to jump in the tub too if a smoke detector goes off.
Paula, thank you so much for your perspective. And that’s fascinating that you too turn toward the hearing ear, no matter where the sound is from. So sorry about the negative classical conditioning with the owls! I love the sound of them (most Barred Owls around our farm). Maybe a recording of owls and chocolate for you, chicken for your Dane?
Ours was the first house Olive had ever lived in, and as an anxious pup with ptsd, every sound was initially suspicious. Some sounds were scary and some were downright terrifying. (Man, thinking back, she has done an amazing job coping and relaxing and growing into her own skin.) It took a lot of patience and a lot of trials and many errors to habituate her to regular household noises like the radio and the toilet and the TV. The occasional fly buzzing was a real trigger for a while. She is still somewhat noise-sensitive, and consequently, so are we. If we drop something, our first words are “Sorry, Olive, it’s okay.” Olive could be sound asleep, but we’re reacting!
We still have to coordinate changing the smoke alarms when she is out of the house and back up alarms and certain electronic beeps still really bug her. Getting out a cookie sheet makes her leave the room (it seems to be a combination of pitch and resonance). But, the good news is she has gotten used to my singing, which used to make her stop in her tracks and glare at me until I stopped 🙂
She is slowly getting used to living in closer proximity to people and other animals except for the hound dog in yard behind us. His baying really sets her off.
As I move through menopause, I am much more sound-sensitive. I have a very visceral response to loud noises; I can feel it in my bones. It makes me even more empathetic to Olive’s ears.
Jann Becker says
I’m using a MacBookAir right now and both dogs are sacked out 6 feet away, no issue there. My husband claims that in the morning, one of them doesn’t like the noise her food makes hitting the pan–it’s one of those silver things they use in puppy class to get them used to noise! Funny thing, though, in the afternoon she has no problem whatever with it.
I play recorders; when I’m practicing alto ( the medium one) my little guy settles in to listen. If I get out the really high “sopranino,” half as long, they wake up, give me a startled look like “Hey, that’s up in OUR range!” But they habituate in minutes, and go back to sleep since I usually practice soon after I’ve fed them.
I’ve been absent from the blog for awhile (Ranger had a scary bout with cancer and everything was a bit overwhelming for awhile. He’s still with us though at 12 with arthritis, and hip dysplasia, and a high likelihood that the cancer will return every day is a gift.) and this was an interesting subject to come back to. I’ve noticed recently that Ranger has lost quite a bit of his hearing. He’s not entirely deaf but many of the softer sounds to which he used to respond are missing from his world now. When we’d visit a nursing home and he’d be looking one way and I needed him to come with me a different direction I’d make a sound to attract his attention. Today I realized that I’m now substituting waving my hand in his peripheral vision.
I’m another one that isn’t fond of noise so my environment is generally fairly quiet. Ranger always did better if he could see what was making the noise that he didn’t like. One year when all the neighbors down the block pooled their fireworks on July 4 he was distressed until I finally leashed him up and took him to the end of our driveway where he could look down the street and see the fireworks going off. He watched for awhile before asking to go back in then had a nap. He’d apparently satisfied himself that the noises weren’t something he needed to take action about.
Vacuum cleaners are an interesting item at my house. Ranger does not care for the vacuum and will immediately leave for another room if we are vacuuming at home. The big vacuums at nursing homes, however, elicit no response at all beyond moving aside to let it pass. I’ve noticed that’s true of nearly all the therapy dogs we visit with, the big vacuums and floor polishers aren’t scary in a visiting setting but are terrifying at home. Finna has the best reaction though. She will attack the vacuum and do her best to kill it if I try to vacuum but couldn’t care less if anyone else in the family uses it. As near as I can tell she thinks the vacuum is a horrible monster that I need to be protected from but if it eats anyone else in the family that’s fine with her. Still it’s the best excuse ever not to vacuum.
I laughed hysterically about soyoung and her dog while she was practicing certain types of music. I’m a classical vocalist, and although my dogs (3 lb chi and 12lb chi/JRT) seem to like my voice, if I’m practicing harmony with anyone else they seem annoyed. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the sound or the fact that they have to share me! I’m very sound sensitive, especially to pitch. I go through many fans until I find ones that are the same pitch or at least harmonious.
My larger guy is deathly afraid of flies. When he hides behind the toilet, I know there is one in the house. The buzzing drives him crazy!
Jenny Haskins says
Oh I really love this. Especially your GWALL of sound 🙁
I have much more acute hearing that average, and it is usually me prowling around to find the sources of the noises (high pitched whines 🙁 , ticks, dripping taps and running bore pump 🙁 at night.
So I think in general the dogs are OK.
(But I cannot stand violins or descant recorders. They drive me crazy as they slice into my ear drums. Now brass instruments and xylophones are lovely 🙂
Jenny Haskins says
The very best sounds are the wee beasties in the leaf litter and a gently breeze in the trees — together with a blue sky with the odd white cloud makes Heaven.
Jenny Haskins says
I remember years ago being driven to distraction by an old bloke using a ‘silent dog whistle’ over and over again. His dog was completely ignoring it, but if I’d had the courage I would have gone up to the man, taken his wretched whistle and thrown it into the creek.
Bruce Haupt says
The valuable comments have reminded me of when we were training Daisy a Golden retriever therapy dog. She worked at Kaiser Zion hospital in San Diego, for seven years and had 1500 hrs. of service and from the count of the photo cards we handed out, she touched the lives of over 8600 patients. Daisy lived to love all people, and could read their stress level and was drawn to them. Sadly we lost Daisy last October to lymphoma. I am keeping her “Facebook.com/groups/Daisy Therapy Dog” page active – look for a golden wearing dark glasses. Join and click on “photos” which will show 4 albums. Goto Daisy “Therapy dog ministry” the recorded therapy sessions and photos will move you to tears.
Daisy when we got her at 4 years, was very afraid of metallic noises. This was back when shopping carts were made of stainless steel, and when they would crash together, Daisy would literally jump sideways, and hide behind me. Drop a pan on the floor, and she would be gone! This noise phobia needed to be dealt with it she was to become a certified therapy dog. I tried to desensitize her by taking her to Petco and walking her up and down the aisles while rattling bags, and dropping cans of cat food onto metal shelves, all the while petting an encouraging her with a happy voice, when she did not react to the noise. What really did the trick though, was I set up a recording session in our patio that has tile floors. I brought in all kinds of metallic items that would make noise. I even brought in our vacuum cleaner and a stepladder, I could tip over! I proceeded to make a three-hour recording, with very long silent pauses in between the various noises. I then proceeded to play back the recording, starting at extremely low volume, while petting Daisy. I very gradually increased the volume of the recording’s, over many days and sessions, in different locations were Daisy was lying. Daisy gradually got desensitized to all noises. I could even run the vacuum cleaner right up to the edge of the bed where she was laying. The trash truck while picking up cans, used to send Daisy fleeing in terror to the end of her lead. Now we could walk by it without any notice! In the hospital setting Daisy was totally focused on loving the person before her, and paid no attention to the noises and activities whirling around her. I hope this is been helpful. To those of you who work therapy dogs, you know the precious blessings that can come from this ministry!! After recovering from back surgery I hope to train another Golden for this ministry. As for hearing, I am 73 and deaf in my right ear, so I know the confusion of trying to locate sounds.
Our dog, Rocky, disappears into our bedroom when the Packer game comes on. It’s not the sound from the TV that bothers him. It’s our intermittent, enthusiastic loud cheering, clapping or god forbid, booing that disturbs him. (We just can’t help ourselves.) However, the phrase, ‘I think I’ll make some popcorn’ will bring him running to my side.
Good to know about maybe being deaf in one ear. I’ll try the tests at home and ask my vet about it. I certainly haven’t noticed anything but it would explain a lot. Thanks for the info!
MARGARET E. MCLAUGHLIN says
Nina is quite sound-sensitive. She’s been downright phobic about thunder and fireworks (the Prozac is helping). I noticed early on that she doesn’t really like music. I’ve always taken her to my church small group meeting, and we always sing–and we’re Mennonites, so we sound pretty good, having the 4-part a cappella stuff in our DNA. When I’m watching a movie she used to whine during music, and switch off instantly when it shifted back to dialogue. Since her separation anxiety became more severe I started taking her to our monthly Sacred Harp sings, which are LOUD. (Seriously, we got busted by the cops once for violating the city noise ordinance. 12 people singing unaccompanied.) It was better for her than being left home alone, but not much. I asked her breeder, and none her other dogs have this issue. None of them have separation anxiety, either. I suspect they are related.
Meg Matsaganis says
Many thanks to Trish and all of you for this interesting article and discussion. My Tervuren Kastor who is now 8,5 has been a challenging dog all of his life. He tends to be reactive around most dogs and loud noises frighten him as well as often wind him up.
To help combat some of these issues, we walk very early in the morning which is generally quiet (no garbage trucks or school buses yet) and less likely to meet up with other dogs. Having said that, last Monday we went out early but, not early enough as the town had scheduled some clean up work along our walk. It was fully underway and the backhoe and dump truck were too much. He and I both pulled away. I appreciate his sensitivity as I too am noise sensitive. But, having left the noise scene and we continued our walk for about 10 more minutes, when we then passed by another dog about 50 yards away. He ‘lost it’ . He just can’t defuse one situation from another easily. He doesn’t like the fan running in the living room and when TV is on too long with my hard of hearing husband, he goes downstairs to the laundry room to chill. I am going to investigate some of our electronic sound to see if that is adding to his stress level. My use of the phone, especially receiving calls, turns him into a charging bull. Again, thanks for some great discussion.
Bruce mentioned music that his dogs did not react to. Maybe a discussion for another blog, but one of my dogs loved Talking Heads, and one threw up every time my husband played “Tool” (poor guy…we stopped when we figured out the music was just not to his taste!) The same dog loved Stevie Ray Vaughn. There is a real story here. He didn’t like my husbands music room but would go there if I was there, and he would stay behind the couch. But when Stevie Ray was played, he would come out from behind the couch and lay between the speakers! Here’s the scary part. My husband started to play David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”. I left the room to attend to dinner but our dog did not follow me as he usually would have. He stayed in the room and went in front of the couch between the speakers. Guess who played guitar on “Let’s Dance”…Stevie himself!
My dog hates it whenever I snap my fingers. I am no Thanos!
Kandy McDonald says
Hi, Trish. This will be my first post and am so happy I’m on your mailing list. That being said, I’m still reading “The Other End of the Leash” and can’t tell you how much I’ve learned. I actually just read the chapter on giving quiet directions to my girl, Hope. We’ve spent so much money with trainers, most ok, one terrible. Your suggestions seem so easy to use and I agree with your positive attitude and no harsh methods.
Anyway, our almost five yr old Pibble rescue, has become very sensitive to fireworks, thunder and even the low battery warning in our smoke alarms (i removed them). She actually leapt over my head in bed and landed on top of my unprepared husband. You can imagine his loud response. I took her to a sofa and let her snuggle up tightly. Things got better, but it surprised it’s that such a low pitched little peep could middle her so frightened.
My dog like many is very sensitive to the sound of the smoke detector going off. Since what usually sets it off is me creating smoke trying to sear a roast he now insists on going outside when I take out the frying pan ! He is fine with saucepans and any other cooking I do and (since my husband makes eggs and bacon for the dog as well as the humans every Sunday morning) you can not get Ranger to leave the kitchen when hubby takes out the frying pan.
Melissa Longo says
I have a very energetic 10 year old Rottweiler. She has extreme herding instincts and constantly needs something to do. We recently sold our house in an urban neighborhood that was about 2 blocks from a dog kennel/doggie daycare. You could hear the dogs barking every day but honestly it was just background noise for us – we were really close to a major road and several hospitals so between sirens and traffic the dogs barking were just that – dogs barking. Bella, however, was on edge in that house – always barking and never truly relaxed. We moved to a rental that is still in an urban area but she is much calmer. I guess we never really took into consideration the effect 50 or so barking dogs had on Bella until we moved and noticed her more relaxed.
MaryLynne Barber says
Our Rottweiler (who we lost to bone cancer earlier this year) apparently heard a sound in certain car engines when we were traveling that really upset him. Car after car could go by with no reaction. Then one would approach that caused him to jump up and start barking at it. We could never discern any particular similarity between the offending cars, so we could not predict when he might react. Trucks or buses rarely bothered him!
Susan Monroe says
My son has a Brindle Boxer named Kodiak and on Friday September 14th, he was at a friends house across the street from the gun range. Someone fired a shot and the dog jumped out the window and ran into the woods. He has not been seen since 8 pm Friday. This dog has separation anxiety from my son, He goes to work and sleeps with him and the two are nearly inseperatable. He is chipped and about 3 years old. We had a search party, search the wooded area, contacted all the neighbors, put out flyers, and many people have been driving, and searching the area daily, calling his name, checked the animal shelter, and it has over 1,300 shares on facebook. My son has put out some of his clothes and Kodiak’s bed, hoping that he senses that he is there for him. and some food. I have to ask….where would this dog have gone? Is he trying to find his way home, or is he in the woods shaking, and scared to death, not knowing what to do next? Now it is thundering and raining and he doesn’t like to get wet. He will walk around a water puddle. Any suggestions? His whole family is devastated.
Oh I’m so sorry. What a nightmare. He’s probably hunkered down in the rain, but might have traveled a long way. Panicked dogs can run for miles. You are doing everything right, however. You might add putting food down by the clothes, and perhaps some trail cams. He will might not find his way home, I wouldn’t count on that, but I’d expand the search, put out flyers everywhere, talk to people in person, and contact shelters every day (and visit, I’ve heard so many stories of dogs who were at shelters, but not ID’d correctly). Most importantly, keep the faith. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of dogs who are found weeks/months (sorry) later. Don’t be shocked if he is found after a long time if he seems almost feral. Sometimes dogs don’t even recognize their beloved owners until several days have gone by. Hang in there, and take care of yourselves.
Weather permitting (it’s not raining icicles), I spend about 40-minutes to an hour on my back porch in the early morning before most of the world is up with a cup of coffee and my dog. The silence (even the birds are not yet busy) seems to energize me for my day. Living in a city, these moments of quiet are an oasis. Thanks again for another interesting thing to think about.
@liz i wonder if maybe your friend‘s voice was not the right timbre or their vibrato was too fast for your dog? hehe, everyone’s a critic!
@diane that is so amazing and interesting about your dog‘s love of stevie ray—now i really wonder if there is something to roald dahl‘s story…your dog might be stevie ray reincarnated!!