I Found the Miracle Fix for My Noise-Sensitive Dogs

There’s an excavator digging up my back yard right now.

Can you hear it?

Probably not.

And the great news is, neither can my girls Roxy and Willow.

This is amazing, stupendous, world-changing. I know it just looks like a couple of goofballs wrestling, but you’d have to know Roxy to feel the full impact here.

Roxy is a textbook clinical case of noise reactivity. By that I mean, noises make her drool, shake, poop on the floor, bark, run blindly, try to break out of windows and doors. And as you see, she’s got some strength behind her. (She’s the pibble; Willow is the brown doggie.)

I’ve been working on this with a trainer for as long as I’ve known Roxy, which is about five years now. One of our best discoveries to date is the air popper for thunder storms and fireworks. This great technique has one major flaw: thunderstorms can last an hour; fireworks can go on for days; popcorn is all popped out in a few minutes.

In our neighborhood, we’re still hearing nightly fireworks and struggling to keep Roxy from shattering windows. To up our challenge even more, we broke ground yesterday on a long-awaited addition to our house (including a mud room with a dog shower – stay tuned!). That means an excavator, jackhammer, nail guns, air compressors, big guys with wheelbarrows. And we signed up for about four weeks of this. Knowing how construction goes, that’s likely to turn into six weeks or more.

In near panicked desperation, I started an online search for noise-cancelling devices. I was ready to pay nearly any price for something that would spare us weeks of misery. I knew sedatives weren’t the answer, because her anxiety is severe enough to break through any mild haze from the kinds of anxiety meds that allow her to still function. The other stuff, like Acepromazine, leaves dogs physically incapacitated but still mentally jacked up. Watching a dog wobble and belly crawl while her eyes are feral with terror is my idea of hell. So I needed some technology, some magical gadget to save the day.

There are window-mounted devices for noisy city apartments. There are expensive headphones that generate their own frequencies to counteract whatever noise frequency is coming at them. There are doodads that make swooshing sounds or some other white noise. I read the reviews and made a choice and finally clicked “purchase.”

sound spa

The thing that saved my sanity

Here’s the stupendous result: the Homedics Spa Sound Machine for $19.28. Two of them. So, my $40 investment gets me a babbling brook in the den, chirping crickets in the living room, and blissfully quiet dogs.

No drugs. No drooling or pooping or charging at plate glass. We had a few half-hearted barks followed by napping and eating and tugging and wresting games.

happy Roxy

Guys are throwing chunks of concrete into a dump truck now. Look who doesn’t care.

This. Is. Bliss.

The Best Trick to Calm Your Dogs During Thunder

popcorn

Last night we had a doozy. The weather folks call it a “severe thunderstorm.” My girls call it, “Holy mother of Dog, we’re all going to die.” Now, a nervous dog is one thing. You can comfort and console while they look for a safe hidey spot. No problem. I’ve known that game for years. But after I adopted Roxy I had to up my game by quite a lot.

Roxy is no shrinking violet. For her, hiding is not an option. She goes into take-no-prisoners mode. So, the first couple of storms we experienced with her resulted in accidents on the floor, gouged windows and doors, shredded curtains, and an alarmingly close call when she slammed an upholstered chair into a 6-foot picture window.

Enter her trainer, Lola, aka Mary Poppins. I named her that after I called her in the middle of a storm and said I didn’t feel I could keep Roxy safe. Roxy was determined to get out of the house and go kill that $#@% thunder shit, windows be damned.

Lola hopped in her car and breezed through our front door with games and treats and calming herbs and a thunder shirt. She even introduced my dogs to a game that involves something that looks suspiciously like a magic wand. Quite fitting. An hour later she left behind calm, sleeping dogs and an eternally grateful dog lady. She also left me with this one life-changing thunderstorm hack:

Popcorn.

A hot-air popper.

And music.

We’ve done this enough times that now my girls expect it. So last night at the first bright electric flash of impending doggess doom, Roxy and Willow ran – – wait for it – – they ran – – to ME. Not the window. Not the nearest door or the plate glass. Me.

They gave this unison bark/whine that was half demand/half plea. Basically, the sound conveyed, “I’m freaking out here. Get out the popper.”

While my husband loaded the Beethoven into the stereo, I grabbed my dusty, clangy old air popper. Pretty soon the music and popping kernels reduced nature’s chaos to a distant murmur. During a lull in the storm, they were okay without the popper running. The snacks and music alone were enough for about 30 minutes (that’s the peaceful scene in this video.)


The storm escalated again and the popper came on again. We played through the entire CD twice. But we weathered the chaos without shredded curtains or messed floors. In the wee hours this morning, as Roxy leaped into bed to claim her spot (right between us, head on the pillow, because we’re ridorkulous) she stood up, raised her hackles, and hurled her most vicious bark at the window. “And don’t let the door hit you on your way out. You want a piece of this, just try that crap again.”

Good job, Roxy. You murdered the storm. We can all sleep.