Dog with noise sensitivities?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by skittledoo, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    So Cricket doesn't have a lot of vices honestly. She really is an all around amazing dog and pretty solid temperament.

    She does have one thing though that she struggles with and I'm curious to know what might be a good way to approach this with her.

    If she hears random noises she will bark and growl. I should tape it some time. She doesn't jump up and go crazy necessarily, but she will get a concerned look on her face from wherever she happens to be and start to bark and growl. Once she has heard a noise she ends up reacting to she ends up in this hyper sensitive mode for a little while where she is on full alert to every single noise around her and starts to growl low at every noise she hears.

    For example. Our landlords live upstairs. They tend to walk with a heavy foot so if she hears them walking around she tends to get upset. If I walk outside of my room and open up say the bathroom door or something she will bark and growl from wherever she is... It's completely random noises. Tonight she could be reacting to some noise she heard from upstairs and tomorrow she could hear the same noise and not care. The following day she may hear it again and react again. It tends to be mainly noises that she can't actually see the source of where the noise is coming from.

    I know I can't be the only one on here that deals with this so... what do you guys do to work on this sort of thing?
     
  2. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Mia is hyper-sensitive like that. She's very much a 'oh, something is weird/has changed/odd noise- ALERT!' kind of dog. I typically just tell her thank you calmly and go about my business. Once she figures out I'm aware of it and it's okay, she usually settles down.
     
  3. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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  4. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

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    Is she a purebred? How old? And has she done this as long as you've had her?
     
  5. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    I've tried that with Cricket and it doesn't seem to work with her. She will just stare at me while she grumbles and growls at the noise. Josh gets irritated and tells her to knock it off when she does it, but ya that
    doesn't work either.




    thanks. I'm definitely going to check this out.




    She's two. Not a purebred. Rescued street dog from Mexico. When she was younger she would do it a little. When we used to live with my mom my brother would try to scare her with different noises or chase her dressed up in costumes and stuff. No matter how many times I yelled at him for it he would still do it because he got a kick out of her reaction. I really do think that is where this behavior started.

    When we lived in our apartment she would do it if she heard people in the hallway but other than that it wasn't too bad. Right now we are living in someone's basement and they are loud upstairs. So... It's gotten much worse and she tends to do this behavior more often.
     
  6. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Bingo.


    Milo does this to (and so did my brother :rolleyes:). I think it usually either stems for improper handling/socialization during the "fear period" as a puppy, or something like you described.

    Milo's gotten a bit better with the Prozac, and a little bit of training - if we hear a noise and he notices but doesn't react, we'll reward, or try to reward fast before the reaction. It's hard though...and if you can't do it mostly every time, it's kind of useless. He has improved, but it's definitely still very much there.

    Mostly I just tell him it's okay, and will redirect him (ask him to sit, lie down, grab a toy).

    I also think it's partially a protective thing - he is apparently much worse about it when with me or my mom than with other people, and he gets a lot worse if I'm sick, upset, or nervous.
     
  7. SizzleDog

    SizzleDog Lord Cynical

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    Talla will growl/baroo/yodel/wuff at noises too, even if she KNOWS the person coming through the door is my husband, or if she KNOWS the dog in the yard is one of our own. It doesn't matter if I get her attention when she does it... she'll look at me, but her ears will be tilted towards the sound and she'll still wuff/growl at it.

    Honestly, I think it's a Mexidog thing in part. Cricket and Talla are from a feral population that has been feral for thousands of years. Their fight/flight is closer to the surface. They're really not like other dogs... I know everyone says that about their breed, but these guys are really quite primitive.
     
  8. Lyzelle

    Lyzelle New Member

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    Yep. Zander is the same way. If he were deaf, I think he actually might be a pretty okay-normal dog. Still unsure about people, but 90% normal. But he is scared of every single noise. The dryer buzzer. Moving tape. Dishwasher. People he can't see in hotels. Noises I can't even hear. It's like he is in a constant state of over-stimulation when he hears a new noise. And it escalates and escalates until he's in full blown panic or complete fixation on one object (like a door). His response is more flight than fight, when compared to Cricket. And yeah, he was tormented at my mom's house too. Same source, same-ish reaction.

    I do a lot of this:

    I try to catch it as early as I can and redirect to fun things to help take his mind off of it. If I think he'll escalate too quickly, I pop him a Benedryl to help bring him down a notch.

    But lots of fun, high value things. Cheese, bread, meat, raw meat, etc. Tricks and some play time. Then I give him a spot to be and I continue to redirect him to there. It helps if I have a bed or a mat, but once he has a place to go and chill, he's good. He'll still react to noises, but he'll default to his place and chill out there.

    I agree with this too. You still meet labs and GSDs with these issues, but it seems more on an individual level or a line-based level. As opposed to the more primitive Northern breeds, the Mexidogs, other feral dogs or hybrids. It really does seem like the response is just that more prevalent and widespread in the population.
     
  9. SizzleDog

    SizzleDog Lord Cynical

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    It's definitely an adjustment, owning primitive dogs!

    Talla has been socialized up the wazoo, but she's still not good in close-quarter public situations. When I take her to the vet, she acts like she's never been touched by human hands... initially it was embarrassing, but it's less so now since I realize that it's not my fault that she's squirrelly in that type of situation. It's just the breed.
     
  10. Lyzelle

    Lyzelle New Member

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    Yep, that's pretty much how Zander acts every time he meets someone new or he has to go to the vet. He acts like he's been running wild for the last 8 years and has no idea WTF is going on....even if we've done it a million times before. It is embarrassing, at first. Then nerve-wracking if you have a runner. Annoying when you deal with people who are super intrusive. But it gets to a point where you know it's not you, it's just how they are and you have to manage.

    (Unless you are me...then you go and get a super popular breed from an awesome breeder and vow to never get a primitive or skittish(or any combo of the two) dog ever again :lol-sign:).
     
  11. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    Gracie does this, too. I have NO idea why. She doesn't bark when people come to the door. She actually doesn't bark at all. But if she thinks she hears something, she let's out a woof and a growl, and she will continue to growl for as long as she feels it appropriate (which is annoying at two in the morning). She doesnt even seem concerned about what she's growling at, though. She can he curled up in a ball under her blankets and react with a bark/growl. Dumb dog.
     
  12. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

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    Ah, feral dogs! They're like a whole different species, aren't they? You must be doing a great job with her; sounds like she's mostly stable. Those are hard dogs to raise, no question.

    One of the things I've always found difficult with noise sensitivities is that it's so easy to make them worse when you're trying to make them better. I always take a Hippocratic approach: first, do no harm. Playing a desensitization CD by itself, without context, can turn a sensitivity into a phobia. So can improperly implemented counter-conditioning. If it's already getting worse over time, it won't get better on its own, so you have to get proactive.

    It may seem like a roundabout approach, but having dealt with this a few times (personally and professionally), here's the strategy I've found works best for the most dogs:

    1. Run through your basic obedience routine several times a day (at least 3) for about a week, so it becomes routine. We want Cricket thinking, "Okay, after the morning coffee, we do obedience...after mom (assuming gender...sorry) gets home from work, we do obedience...after dinner, we do obedience." And be sure she has fun, and gets this special one-on-one time with you. Vary the location and order of the tricks you ask for. Be excited, with lots of verbal praise and play time as rewards. Don't use a clicker and try not to clap when she does well. During fun training time, she'll already be aroused. Making sharp sounds at this time with an already sound-reactive dog will encourage her to associate those sounds with an aroused state, and we want to encourage the opposite. After each session, have at least five minutes of "cool-down" where you do whatever she'd like to do; play, snuggle, or take a walk. Anything works as long as it counts as "mommy and me" time.

    2. After a week (ish), continue the routine, except between obedience and mommy-time, have a thick book ready. Show it to her, let her sniff it, then hold it at about her head height and several feet away from her where she can see exactly what you're doing. Drop it flat on the floor (carpet only--if there's no carpet, wrap the book in a towel first), then immediately put on a calm face and relax your body posture, and in a low, calm voice, say something like "Oh! Why did I do that silly thing? (Then excited voice:) Wanna go for a walk?" (or whatever constitutes mommy-time.) If she barks, that's okay, but next time drop it from a lower height. (If she's still too upset, back up and start with a good, loud clap instead.) Keep smiling, and quickly move into mommy-time, like nothing ever happened. The whole thing, from picking up the book to resuming mommy-time, shouldn't take more than 20 seconds. We want it fast. We'll have her a little off-balance at this moment; hopefully her thought process will go, "Wow, what was that?! A walk, you say!" We want her to see that a) you aren't trying to hide the source of the sounds from her, b) your reaction to the sounds is "no big deal", and c) the sound isn't going to change squat when it comes to her fun time. We're using your relationship to communicate with and reward her. Follow this same routine for about a week as well. Before you make it more difficult, her reaction to this sound needs to be the same as yours: No big deal.

    3. Now work it into the obedience routine. Go through the paces, then put her in a stay and do the book thing. Then quickly continue obedience, leaving the book wherever it fell, ignoring it completely. Behave like you don't even see it. She can look and sniff, but keep the obedience running like you normally would. Then mommy-time. Again, do this a few times (it may not take a week), until her reaction is calm.

    4. Now you need a partner. While you're running through obedience, have them drop the book in another room, far away from where you're working. Pretend like you don't even hear it. If Cricket runs to investigate, the book is on the floor and your partner is going about his/her business, also as if nothing happened. No big deal. If she doesn't run to investigate, woohoo!! Complete obedience as usual, then mommy-time. Keep working on this step until she sticks with you throughout the routine. Then you can have your partner drop the book twice per session.

    5. Now go back to step 2, except this time use a metal pot. She'll probably slip backward a bit, since this is a shift in the routine, but she'll get back to number 4 much quicker than with the book.

    Continue introducing her to sounds by first showing her where they're coming from, and then having them come from another room. And the whole time, it's no big deal to you. As she gets better, you can work more sounds (stomping upstairs neighbors) into the routine. If at any time while you're working she runs off to bark at something noisy, just stay put. Don't call her back. Wait until she comes back to you, and ask if she's ready to continue. If not, be patient and don't react to the sounds, and especially don't react to HER reaction to the sounds. Don't tell her to be quiet, or try to redirect her. These are things that don't affect your day; let her see that, and follow your example. It may take about a month, depending on how reactive she is, but it's well worth it. Again, depending on how bad the problem is, we may be talking management rather than cure. But if we can stop a full-blown phobia developing, we've won the fight!
     
  13. Raegan

    Raegan Member

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    I'm currently watching the Control Unleashed game demonstration DVD, so that's why I thought of it, but my first thought is mat work. My thought is alerting isn't so bad, but since you say she's extra alert for a while afterwards, that's a bigger problem in my view. So I might do jazz up/settle down exercises too, to improve that recovery time.
     
  14. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    And with some dogs pairing working/training with sound desensitivity training at the same time creates an avoidance to train.
     
  15. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

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    Very true, but I don't think that will be an issue in this case because it sounds like Cricket has a pretty stable personality. It is a point though that if it's not working, better to try a different approach.
     

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