How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

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How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

Post by TwoSocks on Sun Dec 27 2015, 15:08

So Una's fast approaching 8 months and in the past couple of weeks she's became very sensitive to noises, especially those where she can't see the source.

When we're at home and she can't see what is making the noise, someone at the door, the neighbour in the path between the houses, someone's wheelie bin. As was described in this post, her hackles go up and she's all bark: https://staffy-bull-terrier.niceboard.com/t61762-7-month-puppy-barking-and-getting-hackles-up-at-nearly-anything. For a pup under 13kg, she's got quite a loud bark!

Outside is easier as we can see the noise and follow Rachel's guidance in the post which is starting to work, but inside is harder as we can't immediate see the noise when we're upstairs and someone's pushing their wheelie bin around.

We've downloaded the noises soundtracks from the Dogs Trust and are playing them quietly to try to get her more familiar with noises. When she does hear something and barks/growls/hackles-up we try to get her to "quiet" and then we going out to investigate and learn that it's not a scary monster invading her space, but we want to make sure this is the right thing to do and if there's anything else we should be thinking about? Thanks!
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Re: How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

Post by LizP on Sun Dec 27 2015, 15:17

I like to pair something worrying with something nice, so that the dog starts to associate the thing they were worried by with that nice thing. I've had success with all sort of things this way, including fireworks.

Very simply, each time there is a worrying noise, you go into OTT happy mode and give Una a treat. Your mood should convey that there is nothing worrying, quite the opposite in fact, and the treat will confirm that this noise is great, it brings food!

Did you try clicker training that I mentioned on your other thread? If you do have a nervous dog having the target that they know means everything is ok (and again produces food) can be incredibly useful. Millie still has phases of worrying about dogs, people, children, etc., and I all need to do is produce her wand when she's worried and her mood changes in a flash.


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Re: How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

Post by TwoSocks on Sun Dec 27 2015, 15:41

Ah smashing, thanks Liz - yes we can do OTT happy Smile

So just to check my understanding of the timing/process:
1. Una hears noise and chuffs, barks, growls
2. We go OTT happy mode, which I'm guessing will distract/throw her off defensive mode.
3. When she's inbetween barks or we distract her mid bark then it's the treat
4. We keep this up as Una settles and we can go outside to confirm there's no monsters

Is that the right timing?

We've not got a clicker but I think it will be a good idea with Una. We've been watching the kikopup videos and it's a very clear "yes" indicator for the dogs. I'm sure kikopup was another recommendation from here and it's been very helpful, I've started the calming training as Una does find it hard to settle down/relax.

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Re: How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

Post by LizP on Sun Dec 27 2015, 16:23

I'd go into happy mode even before she reacts. You're happy because of the noise, not because of her reaction.

I'd also treat anything that's in the right direction to start off with, Ange. So if she looks at you, moves away from the window, sits, anything at all. If you can show an animal (inc human!) that it's worth making an effort, then they try even harder. If there's nothing obvious in it for you, you don't. It's much better to over-reward than under-reward.

So the sequence/timing is

1. Noise = yay, what a brilliant noise!!!
2. Any response (she'll probably look at you, even a half glance) = treat.
3. If she continues to look be quiet, then I'd ask for something nice and easy to keep her attention, a sit for example, so you can praise/reward again
4. If she goes back to the noise, then ask for 'quiet' and/or call her name, then back to step 2.
5. Return to business in a quiet manner.

Just keep in your mind that the objective is for her to associate a noise with something nice, rather than to address her behaviour per se. Once she's not worried by the noise then the behaviour should follow of its own accord.

Yes, clicker is a very strong and accurate 'yes' indicator. That in a nutshell is really what it is all about. That and having fun. Big Grin


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Re: How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

Post by TwoSocks on Sun Dec 27 2015, 17:00

I'm not the quickest on the uptake these days, I'm suffering from puppy-brain! Thanks for explaining the steps Liz, yes that seems really straightforward - I'll let you know how we get on. Off to practise my happy face now Big Grin
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Re: How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

Post by TwoSocks on Mon Jan 18 2016, 21:59

Quick update while I remember! We're getting there although of course we have good days and bad.

Una joined us about 2 and a half months ago and I think she's starting to understand car door and wheelie bin noises, but of course there's always the noises I don't hear and I have a feeling that when Una wakes up from a bad dream she occasionally has a growly bark just to make sure the monsters don't dare to re-appear!
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Re: How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

Post by LizP on Tue Jan 19 2016, 08:15

Good! Gradual progress is great, sounds like you're doing really well.


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Re: How best to deal with scary outside noises when we're inside

Post by TwoSocks on Tue Jan 19 2016, 09:21

Thanks Liz, not sure about really well - I'm shattered and I think Una's still working out what her new home is all about. I'm going to be posting another question on play times/training routines as our afternoons are not working well just now!
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