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Dog Jumps Up and Leaves Area Where There is Noise

    • 240 posts
    September 8, 2018 3:45 PM EDT

    Question submitted as part of the Crash, Boom, Bang: Update on Canine Noise Phobia Treatments webinar:

     

    How do you work with a dog that jumps up and leaves the area if they hear something - like a book falling onto the floor or a cane dropping on the floor?  Where I think this fear started was at a college clinic when she had surgery on her leg and they were refurbishing the equine center next door. She doesn’t pant or shake - she just jumps up and gets away from the area where the noise occurred.  Is there some way I could recondition this 13 year old female Spinoni so that she doesn’t get so spooked?  I’m not a medication advocate - only if all else fails and it is life threatening. Please get back to me, and thank you very much.

  • September 8, 2018 3:47 PM EDT
    This is tough question with the information provided. Yes, you certainly can desensitize and counter condition the dog to startling sounds. You would need to determine if it is a startle reaction to sound only that she doesn't see happening. For example I can anticipate a loud noise if I see the chair falling.
    Another component, especially at an advanced age could be the dog's hearing. If she is losing her hearing, that could have an effect and I would have that checked first.

    I would continue to allow her to move away from any noises she finds scary or concerning. You could certainly reinforce the moving away (without any reactive barking, etc.) with a treat or toy. You would then need to determine the threshold for her sound tolerance. I usually begin working with recorded sounds so I can control the vlolume and duration based on the body language I observe. I would suggest starting with the hearing check and working with a experienced trainer or behavior consultant for the desensitization and counter conditioning as these take advanced skill to be effective.