Tips to Keep Your Dog Calm During Construction

  • 01/02/2016

When considering a home renovation project, expect it to be stressful for all family members involved. But if one of your family members happens to be of the canine variety, you may need to take special care to keep your fur baby calm.

Many dogs have an aversion to — or even significant fear of — loud noises. Combined with their instinctual role of protector, construction projects involving a number of strangers can create a stressful situation for your pet.

If you or another family member cannot be present during working hours, you may want to look into a doggy day care or see if a friend will watch Fido while you’re away. Leaving your pet to deal with this situation alone may cause or add to separation anxiety, which can lead to more serious problems later on.

If your pet does need to be in the home during the construction process, consider these tips to help make the activity easier for them and less stressful for you:

Give Your Pet a Preview

Before the project begins, slowly introduce your pet to the sounds of construction in a safe environment. Los Angeles dog trainer Steve Brooks recommends massaging a skittish pet while letting them smell essential oils such as lavender to condition them to relax. Playing a CD that contains construction sounds and gradually increasing the volume during these sessions may help them acclimate to those noises ahead of time and reduce their stress. If, during the course of construction, your pet shows signs of anxiety, a massage with the essential oils will then trigger the conditioned relaxation response.

If your pet is friendly and good with people, try to introduce them to the crew prior to beginning the project. This lets them know the workers are welcome in your home, not intruders onto the property.

Keep Your Pet Away From the Construction Area

pug_blanket_sad.jpgEstablish a safe area where you can confine your pet during the construction. This should be a place as far away from the noise and activity as possible and where your pet won’t cross paths with the workers. Include things that make them feel secure like a bed, favourite toys, food and water. Adding some white noise to the space can also help drown out the invasive sounds.

Always keep the work area closed off to your dog, even after hours. Construction sites contain countless dangers that could result in serious injury to a curious pet.

When All Else Fails

If, despite your best preparations, your dog still exhibits anxiety and fear, you will need to take further actions. One option is to have your vet prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, although this approach should be handled with caution. Anti-anxiety medications can potentially make the situation worse. According to New York veterinarian Babette Gladstein, medication stifles the physical reaction without relieving the fear and should only be used in conjunction with behaviour modification.

Always remember not to be harsh with your dog for not responding to treatment. To them, a common piece of equipment like an air compressor that generates thousands of horsepower can be very frightening, especially if they have sensitive hearing.

There are a number of herbal and natural remedies you may want to examine first. Products such as the essential oils listed above, Bach Rescue Remedy and anxiety wraps that apply pressure to a dog’s torso like the ThunderShirt or Storm Defender all have a calming effect for most dogs.

A home under construction is always stressful for both people and pets. Your dog can’t tell you what they feel, so they may express their distress in ways that are unacceptable under usual circumstances. While it’s important not to reinforce these behaviours, keeping a positive attitude and remaining calm and patient will go a long way toward helping your canine friend weather this stressful situation and emerge unscathed — with tail wagging and head held high.


Megan Wild is a dog-lover who has been around home improvement projects her entire life. She enjoys the company of her four-legged best friend and a good cup of coffee. Check out more of her dog tips on her blog, Your Wild Home.


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