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Getting Your Dog Used to Loud and Scary Sounds

Reviewed by Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM on Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Posted June 11, 2014 in Dog Behavior

The 4th of July holiday prompts celebration all across the United States, but for dogs and cats the festivities carry with them inherent dangers. We’ve gathered together important tips to help you and your pets stay safe and happy this 4th of July.

Mychelle Blake has served as Chief Executive Officer for The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). Pet Health Network interviewed her on the topic of fireworks and loud noises around dogs. Mychelle worked with Katenna Jones, Director of Educational Programs for the APDT, to supply us with these important answers.

1. How should someone go about desensitizing a dog to noises?

First, begin with the trigger, but play it at a very, very low volume. A recording device or downloaded MP3 of sounds can be quite helpful. As the sound is playing, ensure your pet is calm and relaxed. If they aren’t, the sound is too loud. If they are, feed them appropriate snacks. If your dog is more attention or toy driven, play with them as the sound plays. Choose whatever makes your dog happiest. When the sound ends, the fun ends. Repeat until the dog completely ignores the sound – this may be one or two times, or daily for a week. It depends on your dog. Next, turn the volume up a tiny bit, and repeat. Over time, work in short (say 5 min) sessions several times per day, spread out by at least an hour between sessions. Keep going until the sound is booming through your home and your dog (or cat!) could care less. This can work with doorbells, thunder, truck engines, clippers, crying babies, or any sound that triggers any reaction in your dog.

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Tori has more than 2 years of experience in the pet health industry and is junior editor of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.