Dear Murphy: Noise Phobia

Dear Murphy,
New York City is one noisy place! Something I noticed is that my dog goes absolutely insane when she sees and hears a skateboard or bicycle. Sometimes it frightens her and she recoils, or she begins barking ferociously and lunges for the object. How can I curb this unwanted behavior?

Anxious Owner

Hi Anxious Owner,
I understand your pain! More importantly, I understand your dogs pain. I live in NYC and this city is always busy and NOISY. Below are some great tips on how to treat your dog’s phobias of human powered vehicles!

Human Powered Vehicles (HPV’s): Bicycle, skateboard, skates

  • Find an assistant who can ride a skateboard or inline skates, or locate a park frequented by kids on skateboards and inline skates. Determine the distance your dog needs to be from the action to be able to relax and eat treats or play games.
  • Have your helper move around on the board or blades. Excite your dog – get him riled up! After 20-30 seconds signal your helper to stop and stop interacting with your dog.
  • Put the treats and toys away, and ignore your dog for about two minutes.
  • Signal your helper to move again, and begin interacting with your dog again.
  • If your dog is doing well and you don’t see signs of fear, increase the amount of time your helper moves on the board or blades by 5 to 10 seconds. Similarly, increase the amount of time you ignore your dog in between rewards. As long as your dog continues to look happy and is willing to eat or play, over a period of several days or weeks of repetitions of these sessions, gradually increase the amount of time your helper moves around on the board or blades.

Do not despair! Many dogs have phobias. Some are able to move past their fear with help from patient owners, and others will learn to live with their fear.

For more info on noise and human powered vehicle-related phobias in dogs, please visit the ASPCA’s page.

Bark Bark,


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