Grinch
Lv 7
Grinch asked in PetsDogs · 10 months ago

Newly-acquired dog (long story) doesn't like loud *boom* sounds -- thunder, gunshots, fireworks -- Any desensitization tips?

This dog, otherwise very calm and well-mannered, has reacted badly in the past to sudden loud noises.

I already know not to give her extra attention when she shows anxiety or to reward reactive behavior.

My question is, how to build her confidence, so she understands that loud noises are just loud noises, not something to fear?

Of COURSE I will research this, and the dog is under the care of a behaviorist. Again, long story. Just hoping that other owners might have and be willing to share insight on what they've tried, what worked or didn't, for a dog with a similar anxiety issue.

Appreciate any help, thank you!

5 Answers

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  • 10 months ago

    Look on YouTube for some thunder sound effects, or whatever sound you want to use for this. Turn it on at a very low volume that does not bother the dog. Then turn it up a tiny bit, just enough to make the dog uneasy but not upset. Play this until the dog gets used to it and acts normal. Then play it a tiny bit louder.

    Keep this up, as slowly as necessary, getting the dog used to the sounds, and eventually the dog will tolerate the sounds at full volume.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvSwho5CRTo

    Youtube thumbnail

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ4Ilchl3is

    Youtube thumbnail

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  • 10 months ago

    What I do is just act my normal self and say "just noise, we are not afraid of noise" and tell her it is ok. you can also talk to her in a normal, yet clam voice continuously before/during/after boom and hugging her snuggly (like a thunder shirt compression) will help, too

    (I know you don't have total control over external booms, but you can practice with ones you can control)

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  • 10 months ago

    Blankets/towels often help a dog calm down during these kinds of events, as do hugs.

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  • Jojo
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    Hundreds of dogs are sensitive to loud bangs and booms etc.

    Its not something that is easy or even possible to cure, as its usually an inborn thing and firmly in the dogs genes.

    You don`t say the AGE of this dog though, and the older the dog the harder it will be to try and desensitize the dog to loud bangs.

    Also what actually are her reactions when she hears a loud bang?

    Does she tremble, cower, hide, seek your reassurance, etc?

    You do right to ignore her when she shows alarm at noises and if she is a young dog (under 18 months) she may eventually learn not to react so fearful to bangs, by observing `your` calm reactions to loud bangs etc.

    It also may be that the dog has weak nerves, which often accompany dogs that are afraid of loud noises, but that does not apply to all noise sensitive dogs.

    It`s hard to give any positive advice without actually being able to see the dog and her body language and to assess her properly, which your behaviourist will be able to do . Sorry can`t help more.

    But yes, I did once have a GSD some years ago that was scared of some loud noises and especially if cars back-fired, as they often did in the 1960`s. He would try and hide anywhere he could if a bang upset him. Apart from that he was ok with the world.

    Good Luck.

    Source(s): GSD owner for 56 years.
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  • reza
    Lv 6
    10 months ago

    You can also desensitize by making the noise happen constantly - play fireworks on the tv or something, and don’t react to them. As long as your dog trusts you and sees that you’re not over reacting to the noise, she’ll stop reacting to it. My dog used to get upset when she heard a smoke alarm go off bc I’d jump up when it went off and tried to fan it to get it to stop, and my dog learned from me that it was something to worry about; she’d hear it on the tv and get upset, but she soon figured out when I stopped reacting so suddenly that it was annoying but not to be afraid of. Just try to recreate sounds that scare her (not originating from you though) - play it on the tv or something, and just sit and listen to it. She’ll eventually learn it’s ok, and reward her when she’s calm and settled down. It might help to start with lower volumes as well. You can also try a thunder jacket, or wrapping a blanket a few times around her chest and front snugly like one (there’s videos on how to)

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