Noise Desensitization

To desensitize your dog to noise, you will need an assistant. Always start desensitizing at a distance. You may need to start one hundred feet away or more. Heel your dog in a circle. Have your assistant make a noise by using a wood stick on the bottom of a metal food dish. Your dog may show interest in the noise. Praise your dog and re-command HEEL. Feel free to use food to make the desensitization exercise positive.

If your dog startles or shows excess interest, divert (without leash correction) with NO and redirect with HEEL. Praise, and use food. Don't be surprised if your dog refuses the food. He has more important things on his mind. This fact can be a barometer. Continue to verbally redirect and praise. When your dog accepts food again, you know he is relaxing with the noise.

IAs your dog learns to relax with the noise, try position holding with SIT (first) and DOWN (with SIT success). Return to the increased distance and change the noise. Try banging pots together, an air horn, a car horn, or breaking balloons (your assistant will have a ball with this).

If you plan on doing any hunting with your dog, noise socialization is a must. Spend a lot of time socializing to mediumrange noises before using the starter's pistol. You may also take your dog to a firing range but stay a distance away. Practice obedience commands in the parking lot or a block away. Again, as your dog improves, decrease the distance to the noise.

If you want to use the clicker during obedience training, you will want to introduce it slowly. Some dogs are noise sensitive to the click and may be startled. Since this signal is meant to be praise, take the time to introduce the click and gage your dog's reaction. If the click is too intense, try to muffle the sound by putting your clicker hand in a pair or two of socks. Watch that you don't click in close proximity to your dog's ear.

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