Playtime With Dress-ups and Sounds

Look and movement.

The real world can be a scary and overwhelming place for a young puppy. Whilst they are in their socialisation development period, you want to positively expose and teach your puppy to generalise that weird and wacky things don't necessarily need to be reacted to. Now if your puppy comes across something they think is weird, they might freeze, react, want to play or even take off. It is up to you to start showing your puppy in the house, in their safe place, that no matter how weird or whacky something might appear - it’s totally cool and they are still safe. Get creative around the house with dress-ups and movements. We encourage that you try to do something little every day such as put on a scarf and hat and then make dinner. Make sure to always reward your dogs bravest movements. Your goal with this fun little exercise is to teach your puppy to have life resilience and by exposing them positively to such things now, you are going to help them bounce back. 

A few great examples of everyday things that might seem bizarre and foreign to your dog include:

  • People wearing hats, sunglasses or a hood - you all have access to these. 

  • People using assistance equipment such as a walking frame or wheel chair and moving differently as a result - use a golf club, cricket bat, big stick from outside, an office chair and walk around the house with a limp, hobble, stiffness. 

  • Also consider those who display involuntary body movements and sounds. These can be quite frightening for a dog and evoke a reaction. Unpredictability in a person can be very alarming for a dog - mix up your behaviours and sounds. 

  • People that wear uniforms such as tradies, postman, police - invest in some fluoro, dark authoritarian clothing, PPE, helmet, big pair of boots and clunk around the house. 

  • My dog is guilty of this. The first time we came across a lady doing Thai Chi in the park, Luna freaked out and barked at her. Think of the different way people exercise out and about and their movements - practice Thai Chi, Yoga, Pilates, Boxing, Dancing. 

  • Now thing different emotions and reactions/movements - animated talking, crying, squealing, screaming, flailing arms, unusual movements. 

  • Winter clothes vs summer clothes. 

  • Sports clothes - netball uniform, soccer uniform, ski gear. 

  • Halloween costumes.

If you introduce the weird and wacky at a pace your dog can cope wit, you should not get a reaction and they should look indifferent. Reward them for looking and being brave. Now if your puppy gets a bit overexcited and jumps on your or nips, you need to reaches and tone it down a bit.

So we’re teaching your puppy that strange is OK and that they don’t need to go and inspect that person nude sunbathing over there. Trust me, I’ve actually encountered that when I did group dog walking and it’s NOT something you want to experience nor have to explain to the upset naked person after they’ve just been inspected by a bunch of wet, sandy noses.

As you go out for your daily adventures with your puppy, see if you can capture some unusual things like someone mowing the lawn or using a leaf blower. When they look, bridge with a YES and give them a treat. Ideally look for different movements, different looks as well as sounds.

Sounds and Noises.

Noise sensitivity is common and often severe condition in dogs. It can develop via a single negative experience, lack of exposure of noises in the puppy development period, there may be genetic components to the fear,  or it can be a contagious fear from other dogs (think if you are raising a puppy in your household and you have another dog who is scared of noises). 

Noises sensitivity can vary in severity - ranging from slightly clingy or aware to a dog that will jump through a window, bite or scratch through door, and physically harm themselves to get away from the noise. 

Common noises dogs are scared of:

  • Thunderstorms

  • Fireworks

  • Lawn mowers / leaf blowers

  • Wind

  • Loud vehicles

  • Household noises such as blenders, soda stream, something dropping, banging

  • Building sites

Once a dog develops a noise phobia it is very hard to cure and most dogs end up needing medication to help them cope through noise situations. Most successful cases of dogs that have learned to cope with conflicting noises, involve changes in routines and management techniques to keep the dog safe and more comfortable.

Because your puppy is still in the crucial development stage, you want to prevent noise phobias from developing and utilise this time to expose them to noises and pair the experience with something fun. 

If there are no storms forecast or fireworks planned here are some suggestions of how you can exposure them:

  • Utilise the ‘STORM’ button on the Sound Proof Puppy Training App.

  • Take your puppy to places of high wind such as the beach.

  • Take your puppy to places with loud noises (within their comfort zone) like building sites or near a busy road.

  • Make noises at home (within their comfort zone)

  • Get your puppy out in the rain or any “unusual weather” and HAVE FUN - play tug, fetch, sniffing games, give them a yummy enrichment, do a fun training session with them, take them for a walk. 

During a storm/fireworks or noises:

  • If your puppy seems a little unsettled by the noise, reassure them that it is okay in a light hearted manner. You can not reinforce emotions, but emotions are contagious. If you are happy and loving life your puppy will feed off that but if you are tip-toeing around, feeling nervous for your puppy then your feed will feed off you that there is something to worry about. 

  • As it is happening do something your puppy LOVES to do. Pair the noise with something pleasant and super fun.

  • Don’t leave your puppy alone in the presence of a storm OR firework event, you want to gauge their reaction and be there to help if they feel uncomfortable. If they need to be comforted on your lap or touching you, that is okay and you can touch them. 

  • If it is quite intense utilise white noise, close windows and curtains and turn the house lights on. 

  • Utilise Adaptil and Thunder Shirts. If you notice that your puppy is really bad I would recommend speaking with your vet about having a situational medication to use). 

NOISE SENSITIVITY ACTIVITY

> OK so the next activity is related to notice sensitivity. Does everyone have their big heavy book handy?

> Demonstrate how to drop the book - 

        > don’t slam it - start light

        > casual - recreate accidentally dropping the book.

I want you to drop a book on the ground which will create a noise. When this happens I want you to bridge and reward your pup ON THE NOISY THING so they start to associate noise with something positive. Drop book, have them bridge and reward on top of the noisy thing. Check in to make sure all pups OK. Discuss fear period. if dog has severe reaction to noise, don’t practise noise for 3-5 days.