It’s possible your senior dog gets scared when you cook, because he’s afraid you’ll feed him some of your creation! All kidding aside (this applies to me and my lack of prowess in the kitchen!), let’s talk about what’s going on.
If your dog was in the kitchen one day when the alarm went off, you had a small fire and screamed, or maybe a plate fell and caused a loud noise when it shattered, these events can all explain your dog’s fear of you cooking.
Why Your Dog is Scared When You Cook
Here are some possible scenarios that caused fear and anxiety when you cook:
♦ The smoke detector might have gone off one day while you were in the kitchen, and since it’s such a loud shriek, could have easily scared your dog. There are now negative associations for him whenever food in general or that same food is being prepared, or perhaps even when you walk in or he’s near the kitchen.
♦ Cooking can be a noisy activity with pots clanging, oven doors banging and timers going off. It’s no surprise it scared your dog.
♦ He may have gotten hurt in the kitchen one day, and now fears everything kitchen related.
♦ Your dog is deaf/blind, wandered into the kitchen and got stepped on by someone who didn’t realise he was there.
How to Stop Your Dog Being Scared When You Cook
♦ One way is to keep him out of the kitchen! Put a chew toy he loves on his bed and lure him there, or put a baby gate across the entrance so he can’t get in.
♦ Stop the smoke detector from going off. If that’s what freaks your dog out, then preventing it from ringing is the solution.
♦ Have someone take him for a walk when it’s time to cook, but it’s up to you to decide if this makes sense, and is sustainable as a long-term solution. It can work sometimes, but realistically to see better/more permanent results, try implementing the training advice in the next point.
♦ The goal of this training is to create positive experiences whenever your dog goes into the kitchen, and to show him good things happen there. For this you’ll need his favorite treats.
I don’t know how severe your dog’s anxiety is – does it only start once you’re in the middle of cooking? Only when the smoke detector goes off? Is it so bad he starts to shake when he’s near the kitchen?
Let’s say your dog is fine standing at the kitchen door, but won’t get further. That’s when you want to toss him a few treats, as long as he’s calm. Over time you’ll take one step into the kitchen and lure him with treats, then another step further in, then lure with treats. This may take a few days or weeks, but it takes as long as it takes.
Treats should only be given when your dog is in a calm and relaxed state.
If the detector scares him, find an audio of that sound, play it on the lowest volume and while that’s happening, distract your dog with a favorite bone, toy or a play session. The next time increase the volume ever so slightly and repeat. Your goal is to very gradually over time, increase the volume and not have him react. By pairing the sound with a delicious treat or distracting him with a toy he loves, you’re working towards desensitizing him to that sound.
You can do the same thing with everyday kitchen noises. For example, take a pot out of the cupboard very slowly, while having someone give him treats when he doesn’t react. Increase the amount of noise you make when putting the pot down or away in the cupboard. What about utensils? Do the same thing.
What you’re doing is breaking down the larger fear into smaller parts – detector, noise of a pot, silverware on the counter etc…
Extra Help for Anxiety
Training is important, and the tips above will help, but there are other things you can try in addition to the training.
The recommendations in the article “How to Calm Dog Anxiety Naturally” can help with anxiety whether it’s the result of your “cooking,” or health issues such as dementia and hearing/vision loss for example.
Do you have a dog that’s scared of kitchen noises? What sets him off and how have you helped? Sharing helps others, so please leave your tips below.
I’m a certified dog trainer specialising in working with senior dogs. Whether you have health & wellness concerns, or you’ve just rescued an older dog and need training tips, I can help! Sessions are conducted via Zoom and I offer a FREE 15 minute no obligation chat. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website.