Client Questions Answered: Puppy Stopping On Walks When There Are Loud Noises
Published On Jan 11,2024
A question from one of my clients regarding their puppy stopping on walks with loud noises.
This question pertains to Archie stopping when other dog’s bark in particular but the training process could be applied to dogs or puppies stopping on their walks when they hear any loud or startling noise.
Hey Charlotte, hope you’ve been well. We have definitely been missing puppy classes with you, Archie always used to love them. I just have a question regarding Archie’s walks. I tend to walk Archie early in the morning before I have work around 5:30. He’s mostly been good as we’ve been doing a lot of loose lease training with him, so I’ve been noticing differences in his walking technique. However the past few mornings he’s just been sitting at random spots on our walk and I’ve had to drag him for a while. This morning I dragged him for quite a while before he started walking freely again. His tail was down between his bum, so I’m thinking maybe he was scared. There was dogs barking in the distance and I’ve seemed to notice whenever he hears a noise, he is a bit jumpy. Just wondering how we can improve this?
Hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and New Year! Glad to hear Archie is getting better with his walking. Yes, you’re right – it does sound a bit like some noise sensitivity. He is also almost 5 months, right? He might be going through some development transitions too – these can affect a dog’s behaviour. Some puppies at this age “forget” training, some puppies get a bit nervous of things they’ve previously been ok with, and some puppies tend to switch off their ears. So it’s totally normal. But some sound desensitisation would be great for Archie, try this:
Turn on the trigger sound at a low volume. If Archie stays calm and settled, feel free to reward him to help build the positive association (or some nice calming pats). Keep the volume at this level for a few sessions before increasing it.
As you progress, gradually increase the volume. Keep an eye on Archie’s behaviour. If at any point it seems a bit too loud for him or he shows signs of discomfort, don’t turn it off completely (we don’t want him to learn that if he gets scared of something, the scary thing goes away – neither do we want to increase the sound and make it more scary). Instead, reduce the volume slightly to a level where he feels more comfortable and do a couple of sessions at that level before increasing the volume again.
Keep the training sessions short and consistent. Reinforce Archie’s moments of calmness with treats or affection to create positive associations. Using his dinner is a great way to get this training in. Introduce variations of the sound in different environments, maintaining a gradual approach.
Remember, patience is crucial – the more sessions you can do at each volume, the better Archie will be. If you find Archie is getting a bit too clever and he knows the sound is coming from your phone – try using Bluetooth to play the sound on an external speaker and placing the speaker away from you.
Hope that makes sense Georgia, if it does – fantastic! Let me know how you get on. Otherwise, for more detail, I’ve got an online webinar that goes into a bit more detail. You can find that at https://courses.pawsclawstails.com.au/courses/noise-sound-desensitisation
Hope that helps,