Ipa is a 3-year-old female, intact Doberman. S. hopes to compete with her in protection sports. S. conditioned her very carefully to sudden sounds of different sorts as a pup and young adult. During her first exposure to an actual pistol shot (required in the sport), she startled and was concerned. She showed a clear fear response after the second shot. Since then, her fear has generalized to the popping of shipping bubble material and also the beeps of the microwave.
S. observes that the difference between the pistol shot and the sounds she used at home was reverberation in the environment. I agree this is an excellent hyphothesis.
S. plans to work on the microwave beep herself. Our goal is to create a set of sounds to condition Ipa to the pops.
Eventual conditioning to actual starter pistol shots is a goal, and S. understands that it will be a challenge because of the fear response that has already generalized. Addressing the fear of the beep and the pops has a good chance of slowing/halting the generalization and allowing the pistol to be attempted later.
S. will record some “pops” at Eileen’s instruction and send the sounds via email or Dropbox. (Not Facebook Messenger; it compresses the files.) Eileen will create some test sounds that are altered versions of the scary pop and post them on this page. S. can make an educated guess as to which would be the best sound to try for Ipa, the one least likely to scare her. She then she will do a careful exposure using the Sonos speakers per Eileen’s instructions.
Test Sound Notes
(These are technical notes for Eileen.) I created the first test sound by using the recording at 18 inches. I trimmed it. Then I copied the sound, reversed it, and appended it in front of the original sound. I had to trim a little in between. Then I selected and normalized the whole thing, Then I negatively amplified (-5 dB) the peak area of the sound. Finally added initial silence of 9 seconds.
Ipa Test Sound 1
This is an odd sound, but hopefully not a scary one. There are about 9 seconds of silence before the sound. (Later this will become important because it will allow you not always to be in the same position when you play sounds.) Play it first at a low volume from a smartphone or computer (give Ipa a treat). If she doesn’t flinch, try it on the speakers at a low volume. (Also follow with a good treat.
I asked about white noise because that what it kind of sounds like—a whoosh of white noise that gets a little loud in the middle.
If she’s good with this, we can proceed. There will be a lot of steps.
S. reports that Ipa had what seemed to be a false start, but then did perfectly well with the test sound. “I tried another session tonight and she did great!! She was enthusiastic, offered a bunch of behaviors after our “Ready” signal, and she stayed forward and focused after the noise. No running away! I also bumped up the volume and she stayed enthusiastic and focused. So I think earlier today was just weird. Pretty sure this noise is fine, which is more what I expected.”
I have chosen for the first part of the sound series (this will be a long series!) to raise the volume of the actual pop incrementally up to the normalized version (still not to the complete volume). This will be 6 sound files. Please see the notes I email regarding how many repetitions of each sound to do.
Sound Series 1 (only first portion 6 steps are present)
S. reports that Ipa doesn’t seem to have any negative emotions attached to the sound and wants to work. She may not have the “sound predicts food” association yet, though. I am posting the next sound so it will be ready when S. is.
This next sound is not “normalized,” i.e. it’s not evened out. So the peak of it will be louder than the previous ones. The peak was getting louder in the previous sounds too, but the jump to Sound 7 is a bigger jump. I would start with a lower volume than you have been using, just to be careful.
Visualizing the Sounds
This is just something I did off the clock.
Here’s what the original “pop” looks like. Pretty classic impulse sound, although the peak of it is a little longer than some. Note that the bulk of the sound is less than 1/20 of a second.
What follows is the same sound with its reversed version appended to the front. This is actually Sound 7. Sounds 1-6 were versions of it with the peak softened.
What I plan to do, if Ipa is OK with this sound, is gradually trim off the front of it until we have only the original pop left. I can trim in very tiny increments if need be.
Sound Series 1 Completion
For Sounds 8-19, I gradually trimmed off the beginning of the sound by fractions of a second so we finally had the original pop.
You won’t hear a lot of difference between Sounds 8–10. Sound 11 or thereabouts it starts to be more sudden. Sound 14 it starts to sound like a pop. Sound 19 is the original, unedited pop.