Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dinner Bell

Around the house, I noticed that Reagan can be funny about noises. Big surprise, right? For example, if I am cleaning house, I might drop a dust pan or broom and Reagan worries and slinks off. She especially hated the baby gate. Occasionally, it gets knocked over and it makes a loud crashing noise when it hits the hardwood floors.

In an effort to create a positive association with the noises, I started pairing the loud noises with meals or surprise treats. I would drop something and then bring her in and show her the kibble surrounding the offending object. It actually worked really well. I started using the noises as a pseudo dinner bell and she now comes running.

It worked so well I find Reagan checking out all sorts of household noises now.... dropped kayak paddles, toppled over trash can, slammed lid to the laundry hamper, and fumbled clothes hangers. She now comes running.

If you try this with your noise sensitive dog, just remember to start small and gradually increase the intensity. The baby gate was especially scary for Reagan so I started by just feeding her with the bowl on the gate lying flat on the floor. Then I started to slide the gate across the floor. Eventually, I dropped the gate just an inch off the ground and then a couple of inches.... gradually increasing the volume. Reagan would still be terrified if I had started by slamming it down full scale.