By Joel Monroe &
Please direct any questions or comments
to Joel Monroe firstname.lastname@example.org
In the first article on environmental
training, we discussed how to overcome the fear of certain locations.
Now we will look at how to overcome the issue of fearing sounds
and desensitizing the dog to loud noises.
Get an empty plastic milk carton or
any plastic container that has a handle. Place a hand full of rocks
in the container and seal it shut. Take a rope and tie one end to
the handle of the container. Take the other end and tie it to the
dog's collar. Make sure the rope is long enough so the container
can drag on the floor a foot or two on the ground behind the dog.
Then hook your leash onto the dog and take the dog for a walk.
At first, some dogs may be startled
by the noise of the container filled with rocks, so it is essential
that you have your dog on leash or else your dog may try to run.
Ignore any reaction from the dog and simply go on your walk. Eventually,
the dog will get accustomed to this constant noise.
Another thing you can do to help desensitize
your dog to loud noises in general is to place it in its crate and
place it next to your television. For those who have home theater
systems, place the dog next to one of the speakers. Put in an action
movie into your DVD player and turn up the volume. Of course don't
turn the volume so high that it injures the dog's ears.
The tactics mentioned above can help
desensitize the dog to loud noises in general, however, sometimes
there are specific sounds a dog is afraid of. We will use the sound
of metal pots banging together in this example, however, once you
understand the training concept, the same technique can be applied
to anything from gun fire to loud machinery.
While the dog is eating its food out
of its bowl, stand back about 20 feet and bang the metal pots together
once. If the dog backs way from the food and stops eating, you are
too close and need to back up more. When you are at distance that
does not stop the dog from eating, stand in place and bang the pots
together repeatedly until the dog is finished eating.
The next day, feed the dog in the
exact same spot, but stand a few feet closer and bang the pots together.
Once again, if the dog backs away from the food, back up slightly
as you have advanced too close too soon. Repeat this each time your
dog eats its meal until you can stand by the dog while it is eating
and have it completely unaffected by the noise. Once you have accomplished
this, walk towards the dog as you make the noise. If the dog is
fine with you walking towards it while making the noise, then run
towards it while making the noise. If the dog ever backs away from
the food while you are walking or running towards it and making
the noise, immediately stop moving forward until the dog continues
to eat and slow down the pace in which you are advancing.
When it is no longer bothered by the
noise when eating, have someone else make the noise and do obedience
with the dog. It is important that the dog is not only unafraid
of the noise, but also able to completely ignore it when a big bowl
of food is no longer present and you are giving it commands.
Once you have done this to help
your dog overcome the fear of a certain noise, you will see much
faster results when the trainer uses his strategies during bitework
in the presence of that noise.