By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind
If you live in the city, you can tell when it’s 8:00 am in most neighborhoods because that’s when the construction noises begin. Loud, dusty, and nerve-wracking, construction and road work projects are a near-constant feature of urban life in the warmer months. (And we had a pretty mild winter here in Chicago, so the construction started weeks earlier than usual! Good times.)
If you find the noises aggravating and stressful, just imagine how your dog feels about them. Even the sound of jackhammers several blocks away is going to be impossible to ignore; for dogs with a hypersensitivity to noise (such as certain herding breeds), it can be downright torture.
So what can you do to help your dog get through construction season? First, you’ll want to observe your dog’s behavior and see if anything is deviating from the norm – has she stopped going to bathroom at her usual time/place? Is she ignoring food? Are her ears always back while she rushes through her once-leisurely walks? These are all signs that your dog is suffering from stress, and, in the absence of other obvious stressors (such as illness or a new housemate), there is a good chance that elevated noise levels are to blame.
Keep the windows closed. Sure, you’d like to get keep the air circulating in the house, but the benefit of less noise for your dog outweighs the benefit of fresh air for you. Besides, if you’re close enough to the construction to be bothered by it yourself, those gentle breezes come with a hefty payload of dust and other nasty particulate matter. Keep the ceiling fan on. Turn on the air conditioner (which will also help to mask the sound of construction). If your dog responds favorably to music or the television playing in the background, turn it on before you leave for work.
Create a cozy den. If your dog is crate trained, put a bedspread or a quilt over half of the crate so he has a place to tuck himself away when the noise starts to get to him. The fabric will also help to muffle some of the sounds. If your dog isn’t a chewer, throw a couple of favorite stuffed toys onto the bed so he can bury his head under them and be comforted by their presence. If your dog is free range during the day, try making a tent of sorts by draping a quilt or a couple of beach towels over the usual resting place.
Change the venue. If the rooms on one side of your house are less noisy, move your dog (and his crate/bed/toys/water dish) there during the day. Putting half of a house and a closed door between your dog and the noise can make a big difference. Make sure that you dog-proof the day room before moving Fido in, especially if he won’t be crated.
Put that ThunderShirt on. I’ve seen ThunderShirts work miracles on anxious dogs; you can also try a TTouch wrap (however, if your dog is a dedicated sock-eater putting a long bandage on her while you’re away from home isn’t a great idea). Keep in mind that the ThunderShirt or wrap can make your dog very warm, so if it’s hot outside you’ll need to put the air conditioner on.
Consider doggy daycare. If you have a dog that is okay being around other dogs, daycare can be a great solution. Many daycares are in large buildings in less densely-populated (and therefore less noisy) parts of town, and the presence of other dogs is a great distraction no matter what is going on outside.
Help your dog shake it off. Let’s be honest – it can be very hard to motivate yourself to take the dog out for more than a potty break when you get home after work. But your dog has effectively been under siege all day long, and you can help him shake it off by doing something fun or relaxing. Take a long walk in a different place with plenty of sniff breaks, treat your pup to a nice canine massage or TTouch session, or play a rousing game of “I’m gonna get you” in the hallway on the way back into the apartment. (Note: a dog that has been stressed all day can get overexcited or go over threshold more quickly than usual, so don’t let things get out of hand.)
Visit your veterinarian. If all of your efforts still haven’t helped mitigate your dog’s stress, go to your vet and discuss medical treatment options. Anti-anxiety medication doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment, and it can help break the stress cycle so that your dog isn’t forced to develop other self-soothing strategies like chewing, excessive licking, or barking.
What do I recommend for humans trying to deal with the construction noise? A good set of noise-canceling headphones. 🙂
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