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Carlasl

((Sigh)) noise sensitivity issues

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So things have been going really good with Maya, she has been on all the full size equipment for several weeks now and we were building up to our (indoor) training facilities extremely loud teeter, She has no issues with our teeter at home.

 

Last week she got spooked by a 100lb dog going over the teeter, I immediately took her outside to decompress and waited until everyone was done and we went back inside and just played some ball and some fun games in the back training room. She seemed okay, but very ready to leave when class was over.

 

Last night we had class again and she was not her normal spunky self from the beginning, She is normally barking and very excited about her turn on equipment and she was very quiet and just sort of off....She went over the A-frame several times and seemed fine with it, and then the Newfoundland went over the aluminum A-frame (sound like an elephant was going over it), and she just shut down, she didn't want her tennis ball, or food and was very unhappy, I took her outside for potty and then we just mostly played fetch and tug and circle work in the back training room, you can still hear a lot of noise back there, but it is quieter.

 

Another thing that I think is bothering her is that during class we are all in the ring together (5 dogs and handlers), We usually do some stuff one at a time (only one dog off lead at a time) with everyone else close by and watching.....and then later in the class we seperate into two groups and some work contact obstacles and the other group does jump/tunnel/handling work....I think this is just too much stimuli for her....she doesn't want to chase anyone but I think it stresses her out.

 

My trainer is really great and is willing to do what it takes to help me, We stayed late after everyone left and got her back in the ring by herself and she was like a different dog, she was happy tail wagging going over the dog walk and doing things I asked and playing ball.

 

Any suggestions.....She is only 16mo old, I have plenty of time to get her over this as slowly as it takes...I just don't want to push her and ruin agility for her, up until now she has thought it was the greatest thing ever.

 

I am thinking for now to minimize loud noise as much as possible (go outside during teeter work) having her go first over obstacles before the "horses" go over and make a ton of noise. Then when other dogs are going over the dogwalk and A-frame we go play ball and games in the back training room to get her used to the noises without them being so "in your face".....

 

would love any other suggestions.....

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I am thinking for now to minimize loud noise as much as possible (go outside during teeter work) having her go first over obstacles before the "horses" go over and make a ton of noise. Then when other dogs are going over the dogwalk and A-frame we go play ball and games in the back training room to get her used to the noises without them being so "in your face".....

 

would love any other suggestions.....

 

That is exactly what I would do.

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Is she a food motivated dog? One thing I have had success with in the past with dogs afraid of the teeter bang is to give it a name "BANG!" and pair the name with a really high value treat like, say, liverwurst or greasy stinky salmon. I would only use the high value treat in relation to the teeter bang.

 

I would start away from agility, and play "BANG!" with the treat. Gradually escalate the volume and excitement in your voice as you say "bang" and give the awesome foods. Next, I would do it in the agility area (or in your case, while playing the near teeter at home). The idea being to build a happy, excited, energetic emotional response to the loud excitable "BANG!" you say.

 

Once you have a dog who goes happy crazy when she hears "BANG!" bring her where she can hear the teeter from a distance. Remember she may hear better than you and start from far enough away she doesn't get too upset when she hears it. Every time you hear it it hit you say BANG and give the awesome food (which is still ONLY available in relation to BANG). Gradually move closer until she can be in the same room and the noise causes her to anticipate the Happy Human and Most Awesome Food Ever.

 

Does this make sense?

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Is she a food motivated dog? One thing I have had success with in the past with dogs afraid of the teeter bang is to give it a name "BANG!" and pair the name with a really high value treat like, say, liverwurst or greasy stinky salmon. I would only use the high value treat in relation to the teeter bang.

 

You have to be REALLY careful with this, though. If you move too fast, you can actually sensitize your dog to the sound that you are trying to desensitize. I accidentally did this with Dean when I was trying to desensitize him to the sound of falling jump bars. I ended up creating a bigger problem than he had to begin with. Eventually minimizing exposure helped make that particular noise sensitivity manageable.

 

I know that people have been successful desensitizing in this way. It is just critical to move slowly. If you are going to err, err on the side of moving too slow!

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You have to be REALLY careful with this, though. If you move too fast, you can actually sensitize your dog to the sound that you are trying to desensitize. I accidentally did this with Dean when I was trying to desensitize him to the sound of falling jump bars. I ended up creating a bigger problem than he had to begin with. Eventually minimizing exposure helped make that particular noise sensitivity manageable.

 

I know that people have been successful desensitizing in this way. It is just critical to move slowly. If you are going to err, err on the side of moving too slow!

 

Would you mind explaining what happened with Dean? I think I don't quite understand what you mean by "you can actually sensitize your dog to the sound that you are trying to desensitize."

 

Thanks!

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I didn't either, until I did it!

 

Dean was shutting down when he heard the jump bars fall on the floor in class. I decided to desensitize him to it.

 

I started out fine, lightly tapping the bar on the ground and throwing a ball for him. I raised criteria too fast, though. And when I started to make noise that put him over his threshold, he went WAY over his threshold - could not play, could not take food, full phobia mode. I should have lightly tapped for several weeks before even raising criteria - but hindsight is always 20/20 clear!

 

After that, he really became hyperfocused on jump bars. Not only did he go into a panic when other dogs knocked bars, but he started to have panics (physical panics with dialated pupils, stiffened muscles, etc.) when he was cued to jump. Interestingly, it was only the bar jumps that had this effect. He was fine on the tire. He learned fast that the bars made the sound and the panic escalated.

 

That's what I mean by "sensitized". A sound that he was originally sensitive to became a full blown problem sound.

 

At that point, I had to lower his jump height and only have him in the room when he was running so he would not hear other dogs knock bars. At first he still panicked a bit when he knocked the bars himself, but gradually he got to the point where he could deal with that and recover. It took a lot of work, but he can jump his height now and he's not really worried.

 

I may try to desensitize him again at some point, but I am going to take a much different approach. We will move much, much, much slower!!

 

I'm really careful now about sounds that he is sensitive to, though. Usually minimizing exposure does the trick with low-level sounds that he is sensitive to at first.

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You have to be REALLY careful with this, though. If you move too fast, you can actually sensitize your dog to the sound that you are trying to desensitize. I accidentally did this with Dean when I was trying to desensitize him to the sound of falling jump bars. I ended up creating a bigger problem than he had to begin with. Eventually minimizing exposure helped make that particular noise sensitivity manageable.

 

I know that people have been successful desensitizing in this way. It is just critical to move slowly. If you are going to err, err on the side of moving too slow!

 

I do something like this with Sugarfoot when she gets reactive to a sound - like motorcycles. I mimic the sound that she's alerting on before she's get's all wound up about it. Then I laugh, repeat the sound, laugh some more. If I have treats on me I give her some. (Usually I don't.) But the imitations really help.

 

I discovered this by accident. I'm a natural, automatic mimic. I think I was a Mockingbird in my last life. But I noticed one day that Sugar (we were indoors) was suddenly very focused on the sound of a motorcycle. At the same time, and without thinking, I imitated the sound of the bike. Her head whipped around, and she looked at me with what looked like amazement. I did it again. She started to wag her tail. The bike outside went, VROOOOOM, VROOOM! Her tail went down. I went VROOOOM, VROOOM! The tail came back up. This sequence repeated three or four more times, and each time her tail dipped less at the real motorcycle sound, and wagged harder with my imitation.

 

Since then I do notice a real relaxation in her when I imitate the sound she's starting to get twitchy about. It's like she thinks, 1- you seem to think that sound is funny. Maybe it isn't a sign of my impending doom after all, and 2- well, mom makes that sound and she's not scary, so maybe the other thing that makes that sound isn't scary. (However, passers-by don't seem to share her assessment of mom as not scary. You can see them thinking: Hmmmm, strange woman with dog standing on sidewalk saying, "VROOOOOM, VROOOOM!" and cackling like a nutcase. Walk over here, children...)

 

Well heck, Sugarfoot gets it...

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Wow that was cressa reaction to the metal teeter too. I already had to convince her to take the wood teeter when she was a pup. And we were at a trial when we first got exposed to the metal teeter. I literally had to reteach teeter. After that her incounter with that metal teeter I have notice she is now noise obessive more then before. She wasn't afraid of the metal dogwalk or aframe. If anything those noise excite her from the start. Teeters on the other hand... she wouldn't even touch the wooden one and would run to the door to leave and shake. Even now she won't hold a 2o2o on the teeter if it bounces.

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I am thinking for now to minimize loud noise as much as possible (go outside during teeter work) having her go first over obstacles before the "horses" go over and make a ton of noise. Then when other dogs are going over the dogwalk and A-frame we go play ball and games in the back training room to get her used to the noises without them being so "in your face".....

 

would love any other suggestions.....

 

Good you are in tune with your dog and willing not to rush things. She is an adolescent and it's good timing to build her confidence gradually rather than test it too frequently.

 

Your ideas are good, and you might take them a step further so that your dog does not merely tolerate the noise, but actually enjoys it (given her history). You could do this by teaching her to make noise, so she would be doing it voluntarily and with enthusiasm, but away from agility equipment. For example, teach her to nest metal food dishes, one inside the other (you could start with plastic or on carpet if you needed to). Have her eat out of noisy, treat dispensing toys.

 

Meanwhile keep up with agility by taking private or semi-private lessons (minus the teeter). At home, get her over the moon about your teeter (she shouldn't be fine with it, but rather truly confident & enthusiastic). I would save her very favorite thing on earth for teeter work, so she develops a very happy association with teeters regardless of their sound. Then make your home teeter louder and louder. A cookie sheet underneath it on the ground, then a second one attached to the teeter (essentially mimicking a metal teeter on a metal floor). Then add in visits to a puppy agility class (smaller dogs, smaller equipment), before rejoining the loudest group, at first in the manner you describe above.

 

Barbara

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thanks everyone!

 

Barbara those are great ideas, I have since she was a puppy played bang the mini teeter with a cookie sheet under it and she will stop on it like nothing else, but I could never get it as loud as the teeter in our building, putting an additional cookie sheet on the teeter itself is a great idea.

 

I think we are going to start playing a bunch of very noisy games at home, gonna have to go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of cheap cookie sheets...:rolleyes:

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Sorry for the off topic but what is a 2o2o?

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Sorry for the off topic but what is a 2o2o?

 

no problem, it is short hand for 2 on 2 off.... (or a stopped contact with the back feet on the contact front feet on the ground).

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I didn't either, until I did it!

 

Dean was shutting down when he heard the jump bars fall on the floor in class. I decided to desensitize him to it.

 

I started out fine, lightly tapping the bar on the ground and throwing a ball for him. I raised criteria too fast, though. And when I started to make noise that put him over his threshold, he went WAY over his threshold - could not play, could not take food, full phobia mode. I should have lightly tapped for several weeks before even raising criteria - but hindsight is always 20/20 clear!

 

After that, he really became hyperfocused on jump bars. Not only did he go into a panic when other dogs knocked bars, but he started to have panics (physical panics with dialated pupils, stiffened muscles, etc.) when he was cued to jump. Interestingly, it was only the bar jumps that had this effect. He was fine on the tire. He learned fast that the bars made the sound and the panic escalated.

 

That's what I mean by "sensitized". A sound that he was originally sensitive to became a full blown problem sound.

 

At that point, I had to lower his jump height and only have him in the room when he was running so he would not hear other dogs knock bars. At first he still panicked a bit when he knocked the bars himself, but gradually he got to the point where he could deal with that and recover. It took a lot of work, but he can jump his height now and he's not really worried.

 

I may try to desensitize him again at some point, but I am going to take a much different approach. We will move much, much, much slower!!

 

I'm really careful now about sounds that he is sensitive to, though. Usually minimizing exposure does the trick with low-level sounds that he is sensitive to at first.

 

 

So, all you are saying is that this won't work if you push the dog past her threshold and take her too close too fast, which makes sense.

 

I think the important part of the desensitization process is reading your dog and going slow enough that its easy to read when teh stress level is going high.

 

What I like about the bang is it a change of the human. Dogs read *us* so well that they will often increase or feel stress because we are stressed by them feeling stressed, creating a vicious circle of stress. By creating a "bang!" away from the scary teeter, you are changing your own demeanor and modeling for the dog that the noise gets you happy and excited, if that makes any sense (I haven't had my coffee yet).

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So, all you are saying is that this won't work if you push the dog past her threshold and take her too close too fast, which makes sense.

 

Yes.

 

But I'm also saying that with noise - more than anything else I've used desensitization with - there is a lot less room for error. Accidentally sending the dog over threshold with noise can create even bigger problems than you started with in a very big hurry.

 

When working with a dog that is fearful of other dogs, for instance, if the dog goes over threshold, getting back to the point where you were at is pretty straightforward. Even if things are temporarily made worse, it is not too difficult to get back where you were.

 

With noise, you can end up going back to square one after an error and find that step one is now way beyond threshold.

 

To be honest, I hesitate to try desensitization with sound again - I haven't with Dean since I managed to do that, especially since limiting exposure is working very well for him. If I were to try it again, I would go slow at an exaggerated pace and stay at each noise level until I was beyond sure that the dog was really ready to go further.

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To be honest, I hesitate to try desensitization with sound again - I haven't with Dean since I managed to do that, especially since limiting exposure is working very well for him. If I were to try it again, I would go slow at an exaggerated pace and stay at each noise level until I was beyond sure that the dog was really ready to go further.

 

 

I'm not sure how limited exposure helps...but maybe I am not understanding what you are saying.

 

If this dog is to do agility, he will have to experience a loud variety of teeter banging noises, as he is getting ready to run and running. Are you saying that by keeping him away from the sound he will stop being afraid of it? What happens when he hears the other dogs later?

 

My dogs are afraid of fireworks...they only happen once a year. The level of fear on the night they start does not decrease because there haven't been fireworks for a while.

 

And, FWIW, I have successfully helped at least 4 dogs over the teeter noise issue with desensitization and to the best of my knowledge (most of the dogs were not mine) none of them ever had a problem again. I am a decent trainer, but certainly not the best, so I don't think it was my superior skills...

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If this dog is to do agility, he will have to experience a loud variety of teeter banging noises, as he is getting ready to run and running. Are you saying that by keeping him away from the sound he will stop being afraid of it? What happens when he hears the other dogs later?

 

Keeping him away from the sound will not make him stop being afraid of it. Keeping him away from the sound will help keep him from building further sensitivity to it at this stage of training and development.

 

Using Dean as an example, when he was around a lot of dogs that were dropping bars, he could not even take a jump, for fear of making the sound of the bar dropping if he knocked it.

 

By limiting exposure (he is not in the room while other dogs run), he has built up a good tolerance for the bars dropping when he accidentally knocks them. If he knocks them himself, it is a non-issue now since that is the only time he hears the bar dropping nose. (And, of course we love to run outside where they don't clatter when they drop!)

 

Same with the teeter. He is simply not around other dogs that are banging the teeter. So, when he bangs it, he has a greater tolerance for the noise.

 

I'm not saying that Carlasl will ever have to go to the same extreme. But I do know now that had I limited Dean's exposure to those things early on instead of trying to desensitize him, he most likely would not have developed as great a sensitivity to those sounds as he did.

 

It was a major live and learn thing.

 

My dogs are afraid of fireworks...they only happen once a year. The level of fear on the night they start does not decrease because there haven't been fireworks for a while.

 

True. But the fact that the fireworks only happen once a year probably helps them a lot when it comes to recovery and the overall effect that the fear has on them. If there were fireworks right next to your home once a week, you would probably see effects of the fear that you don't see because it only happens occasionally.

 

Another example, when there are fireworks occasionally, Dean recovers quite nicely. When there are fireworks day after day after day, he eventually snaps emotionally at some point, and the amount of time it takes him to recover increases with repeated exposure.

 

So, limited exposure does not make him less afraid of fireworks, but it does make him much more capable of recovering after being exposed to them.

 

And, FWIW, I have successfully helped at least 4 dogs over the teeter noise issue with desensitization and to the best of my knowledge (most of the dogs were not mine) none of them ever had a problem again. I am a decent trainer, but certainly not the best, so I don't think it was my superior skills...

 

I'm not saying that you haven't. I'd say that whether or not a particular dog can or cannot be desensitized to certain sounds has a lot to do with the dog himself and what is at the root of the noise sensitivity.

 

It may be, in Carlasl's case, that this is an isolated thing caused by being startled by the sound of the large dog slamming the teeter. If that's the case, then desensitization has a shot at working.

 

But there could be more to it. And if that's the case, then limiting exposure early on can help keep the problem from escalating beyond the point that it is at now.

 

I'm not saying not to desensitize. I'm saying that it can save a lot of trouble to take extra care to take it extremely slowly and that it's best, when trying to desensitize to noise, it can be best to err on the side of moving more slowly than necessary.

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I have noticed that my dog is less reactive to scary noises when I give her Rescue Remedy. She is also more willing to approach things that she knows can make scary movements and/or noises. This, plus a general campaign of desensitization have really helped with her overall reactivity/ fear issues.

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Keeping him away from the sound will not make him stop being afraid of it. Keeping him away from the sound will help keep him from building further sensitivity to it at this stage of training and development.

 

Using Dean as an example, when he was around a lot of dogs that were dropping bars, he could not even take a jump, for fear of making the sound of the bar dropping if he knocked it.

 

By limiting exposure (he is not in the room while other dogs run), he has built up a good tolerance for the bars dropping when he accidentally knocks them. If he knocks them himself, it is a non-issue now since that is the only time he hears the bar dropping nose. (And, of course we love to run outside where they don't clatter when they drop!)

 

So basically you are just saying go very, very slow, don't allow him to hear the scary noise outside of his threshold, not anything different.

 

Another example, when there are fireworks occasionally, Dean recovers quite nicely. When there are fireworks day after day after day, he eventually snaps emotionally at some point, and the amount of time it takes him to recover increases with repeated exposure.So, limited exposure does not make him less afraid of fireworks, but it does make him much more capable of recovering after being exposed to them.

 

See, and mine do the opposite, becoming less reactive over time. Fireworks are legal for a week here, and by teh end they are still reactive but much less so than the 1st few nights.

 

I'd say that whether or not a particular dog can or cannot be desensitized to certain sounds has a lot to do with the dog himself and what is at the root of the noise sensitivity.

 

I see.

 

 

But there could be more to it. And if that's the case, then limiting exposure early on can help keep the problem from escalating beyond the point that it is at now.

 

I realize I sound like I am being nitpicky, and I don't mean to be, or to imply you are wrong, I just get the feeling that I am missong something here.

 

Doesn't properly done "desensitization" imply that you don't let the dog reach threshold...that you limit exposure to what the dog can handle, controlling exposure until you are ready to step it up? How is that any different than what you are saying?

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Not sure if it helps. But I totally get what rootbeer is saying.

 

I can give Cress as an example. or I think this is an example of what rootbeer is referring too?

 

Cressa as a pup was very fearful of the wooden teeter. Got her thru it with a ton of treats and having her watch her "cousin"/confindent pack member get treats for making noise got to go over the teeter.

 

Cress 1st time over the metal teeter was at an inside trial. The 1st time she went over it with a suprise look on her face. We only did one day so... I did a LOT of praising. She was by this time in EXC B. The second time she had the metal teeter was at a different trial inside again. 1st time again she was suprise. the 2nd time she was cautious over it and wouldn't hold her contact. The 3rd time she ran past the teeter. I could still get her to do the teeter she was just being slow and cautious. The 3rd time she had a metal teeter we were at an outside trial. SHe ran up about 1/2 way and jump off. After that she wouldn't take the ANY teeter. In class she would be petrafied by the noise IF she even heard the teeter. She would start to shut down. AT first we avoided the noise and just didn't do teeter or left the building when a dog was going to do the teeter. But I wanted her to be able to compete so we started to not leave and just put distance with the teeter. It seriously took me about 3 months to get Cress over the teeter fears. She just would completely refuse to take the teeter and would try to run if she saw a dog goes over the teeter or if she when near the teeter(at this point we were already back to wooden) she would put on the brakes. She wouldn't even go over the baby teeter with cloth on either end. I finally picked her up and placed her on the end of the teeter and encourage her to make it bang. I finally got her to jump on at half way while easeing the teeter down to a bang. She would still refuse to go over the whole teeter. Once she got use to the bang spot we started to encourage her to start closer to the up side. Around this time they also switch over to metal a frames and dogwalks. Cress never had an issue with the other contacts. But I notice she started to become "alert"/excited/tense up/on edge/ready to go TO the contacts, whenever a dog took those other contacts. She had ALWAYS loved her contacts so was releive that she wasn't having issues with them. In the process of geting her over her teeter fears she became noise obessessive. Any noise that sounded like a dog going over the dogwalk/a frame would excite her and she would start to have go in obessessive mode. She found out that in the basements the noise that come from upstair sound a lot like a frames and dogwalks. Soon she started to become obessive with any noise above her. We are still working on calming down with over head noises (I live in a basement apartment so we have a ton of nosie overhead).

 

I can't help but wonder if we condition her to become obessessive to those noise since she couldn't escape. And while we were rewarding her so not being "scared" we ended up invertedly rewarding her for being on edge/more sesitive to those noise. ANd thus creating a noise obessession in a dog that was "normal" before.

 

I am not sure if I am using the right terms for how she was acting or her responsives. Hope I didn't confuse anyone and jumped around too much.

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Doesn't properly done "desensitization" imply that you don't let the dog reach threshold...that you limit exposure to what the dog can handle, controlling exposure until you are ready to step it up? How is that any different than what you are saying?

 

Yes - we are saying the same thing in that. But I think it's important to take into account that we are human and we don't always follow the rules perfectly. We might mean to, but often in desensitization, a little success makes it very tempting to just go one leeetle step further toward threshold . . . It happens. And - I hate to say it - but some instructors tend to push students in this direction. Not all, but again - it happens.

 

So, what I'm saying is that when desensitizing in other situations, I've found that there is a boatload more room for error than I have found there to be with sound. I am saying that with sound the difference between success and more difficult problems could depend upon sticking to the rules meticulously and resisting the urge to bend them even just a little bit.

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small update, my instructor wants us to finish out the group class, if we want to, and is going to make special considerations for us.

 

We went tonight and the instructor did jump tunnel sequences and we worked on handling, and Maya had a BLAST! she was her normal happy barky self... it was so nice and FUN!

 

At the end of the night everyone was released to work on contact equipment and I asked if Maya could go over everything first and then we would leave, and my instructor asked everyone to hold on for a second and not make noise.

 

Maya went over the dog walk and A- frame like a champ, really really enthusiastic hit her contacts and everything I was so happy.

 

Then of course as we were getting our things together someone went over the teeter and UGH Maya was terrified, I could have screamed. Hopefully she remembers the fun stuff and not the one noisy teeter bang.

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