Sound Desensitation

I recently received the following dog behavior questions about desensitization training.

I rescued a Silky Terrier from the highway about 5 months ago. He was about 7 months I think, but he is scared of everything. If someone is yelling on the tv for instance he cowers and shivers. It takes sometimes up to a half hour to calm him down. I suspect he was abused in his prior home. Any ideas?

L.P.

First of all kudos to you for taking on the challenge of a rescue dog!

Two basic links on this subject are:
Small Dog Shaking

Furthermore, your boy needs to be desensitized to loud noises.

If you found him in traffic, he is probably afraid of that noise.

* So start with mild traffic noises. Record them, then play it back at home, super soft.

* Watch your boy, and make the sound louder bit by bit. Stop when he is uncomfortable, but not freaked out.

* Run the tape at that volume until it no longer bothers him. Then make it louder. Keep this up until it is regular traffic noise level and your dog is unconcerned.

* Then walk him out on a quiet street, over several days, even several weeks, until he is fine. Then walk on noisier and noisier and noisier streets. He will slowly be happier with this, until he is unconcerned.

I would keep the TV quiet at first so it doesn’t set him off. Then run this like the traffic noise, slowly louder and louder as he is fine with each volume level.

Run the same scenario on any noise that sets him off. Start it soft then get it louder and louder until he can “take” the regular volume with no problem.

Also, as I mention in the other posts answering such dog behavior questions:

* Do not coddle your boy. A calm and self confident owner tells a dog that there is nothing to be afraid of.

* Quality obedience training is unparalleled in instilling confidence in an uncertain dog.

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