Make It Stop.Sound Phobia in Dogs. Animal Wellness.

Sensitive to Sound?

By: Claudia Bensimoun

As seen in: AWM Vol. 15 Issue 5

You know dogs have a keener sense of hearing than we do. What you may not know is that some canines are extra sensitive to sound, and can develop fearful behavior because of it.

Karen adopted Penny from her local shelter. Sensitive to every sound, the shepherd mix was almost too fearful to go for walks. Determined to find a way to help Penny overcome her sound phobia, Karen first consulted her veterinarian to check for any medical issues. The next stop was a veterinary behaviorist, who used desensitization and behavior modification to help Penny regain confidence and generally overcome her fear of noises.


Sound sensitivity, though more common in herding breeds such as German shepherds, border collies and Labradors, can affect any dog at any age. Think of the terrier mix who hides cowering under the coffee table during a thunderstorm, or the poodle who gets the jitters every time a transport truck rumbles by.

A new study has gained insight into how domestic dogs react to noises. “Our results suggest that the characteristics of dogs, their early environment, and exposure to specific noises are involved in the development of fear responses to noises,” says Dr. Rachel Casey, who led the study at the School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol.

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Copyright © 2013 Claudia Bensimoun

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