Desensitizing and Counter Conditioning Dogs to Sounds

Desensitizing and Counter Conditioning Dogs to Sounds:  This playlist of dog training sounds can be used to positively condition a not yet fearful dog or desensitize & counter condition an already fearful dog.

Desensitizing and Counter Conditioning Dogs to SoundsReal storms or fireworks displays cannot be used to overcome fear, as they happen too quickly and are often unexpected.  We are using prerecorded sounds so we are in direct control of timing, volume, & duration.  This training protocol must be implemented gradually and over prolonged periods of time. 

-The sound tracks should be started at a low enough level that it does not invoke a fearful response.  A dog’s hearing is much better than ours, so start even lower than you think.

– This is a slow and gradual process, increase the volume one “notch” each training session.  The biggest mistake you can make is increasing the volume too quickly, causing a fear response in your dog.

– While the sound track is playing, create a positive association for your dog.  Periodically treat your dog with high value snacks (hot dog, cold cuts, etc.), play a game with him (tug, fetch, etc.), or practice obedience commands.  This will help keep your dog’s mind focused on something other than the noise.

– Once your dog has progressed and is no longer reactive toward sounds at an appreciable level, you can restart this scenario in different rooms of the house.  Varying the location will help your dog to generalize his understanding that these sounds are not “bad”.

If your dog does exhibit a fearful response to a sounds at a specific volume, take a step back.  Lower the volume to a point where the dog no longer responds and resume the protocol from there.    

Start the process of positively conditioning, desensitizing and counter conditioning today.  Don’t wait to train your dog right before a storm or major fireworks related holiday. 

Perform short and frequent training sessions each day, over several weeks.  When done correctly, this approach can help prevent issues in puppies or nonreactive dogs and help rehabilitate fearful dogs.  

Please feel free to share this article and playlist to other dog owners, so they can help their dog too.