They have had Jake since he was a puppy. He’s now four years old.
The couple have theories about why he’s quite so noise sensitive. As a puppy a closed crate crashed down beside him and sent him running and hiding. It’s very possible this happened during a fear period.
They also wonder whether a painful ear problem when he was younger may have something to do with it too.
A link between noise sensitivity and pain
It’s also proven as written up in Science Daily that there is a link between noise sensitivity and pain. The couple believes this not to be the case but it may be a good idea to have Jake checked thoroughly again. The vet also may be able to help with calming meds.
To help him with his noise sensitivity, they now have a graded plan. They will start as far as possible at a place Jake isn’t too uncomfortable. They will begin with soft sounds they may create themselves. The will use random things like a distant car door slamming.
Pairing the sound with food (desensitising and counter-conditioning).
They need to make sure Jake associates the food with the sound. Ccoming after the event is too late for Jake to build the association. They are going to say a word like ‘Noise’ to coincide with the sound, as a kind of bridge. Then they buy a bit of time to pick up the food.
They will drop or throw it. Sniffing and seeking the food is beneficial. Fortunately Jake, being a Labrador, is very food motivated!
What I hope is that after time Jake, in the house, will hear a sound, any sound, and look to them for food.
Jumping ahead too fast
They have already experience what happens if they jump ahead too fast. They had previous advice to use firework clips on YouTube, building up the volume. Then they routed it through their TV and it was suddenly much too loud.
Jake was back to square one and they gave up.
They will now pair food with all sounds that he even slightly alerts to – this would be starting at step one.
Real life gets in the way
Unfortunately real life happens and they can’t cut out sudden ‘too loud or too close’ sounds, but they need to stick at it.
They will work hard on noises in the house or heard from outside.
Choice out on walks
Walks themselves to a noise sensitive dog like Jake must be different. He’s not so fearful in the field near to their house. He’s worst when take somewhere by car where things are unfamiliar. He doesn’t feel safe. Sometimes he freezes. He can’t move.
Now they will use a comfortable harness instead of his collar and give him choice.
He can choose whether to go out at all; he can choose where to go and when to stop; he can choose when to come home.
They will build up his confidence before taking him anywhere by car again.
All the time they will use their ‘Noise’ and food pairing though if he’s too scared even Jake will ignore the food. If he wants to hurry back home then he should be able to do so.
Further afield by car
In time, when he’s a lot more confident near home, they will take him somewhere by car. This will be no further than five minutes away. Again, they will allow him choice.
The man loves his long walks. For now he will need to sacrifice them for as long as it takes if he’s going to help Jake.
Sudden motorbikes, bird scares and fireworks which nobody can control will complicate things. This could be a slow process. Over time they will be building up Jake’s trust and confidence.
I liken it to a game of snakes and ladders. There are too many snakes but keep going and you win in the end!
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help