I create custom sound series for trainers, behavior consultants, and veterinary behaviorists who are working with sound sensitive or sound phobic dogs. The sounds “morph” from a benign sound to the dog’s trigger sound with gradations in between and can be used for desensitization and counterconditioning.
These sound series are needed when using the technique of lowering the volume to make a less intense version of the sound will not work, as is often the case of high pitched beeps and whistles.
This technique works best for such high-pitched sounds. It can also help dogs with fears of motor/machine sounds of all sorts, from hair dryers to nail guns to vehicles. For several reasons, it does not work well for thunder or fireworks and I currently don’t take on those cases.
This movie gives a quick overview of the concept.
How It Works
You can download and fill out the screening form and email it to me (address is on the form). We will chat about your dog’s situation and I will determine whether I can likely help.
I will ask for more detailed information about your dog. I will ask you to provide me a recording of the scary sound or sounds and give you instructions for doing so. It can be done with a smartphone and a cheap or free app. I provide information on how to do this. Getting a good recording may take a few tries, and I also may need to edit the sound on my end.
If the dog’s trigger sounds include “real-life” sounds rather than digital ones, you will need good quality external speakers.
We will discuss possible similar sounds that don’t scare your dog. I may ask you to record these, or if they are standard sounds, such as some common smartphone sounds, I can provide them myself.
We can communicate via email or online conference such as Skype or Zoom, as our needs and your preferences dictate.
I will provide recordings of test sounds, if necessary, to make sure we have a baseline sound that doesn’t scare your dog. I will give you instructions on how to do the tests.
I will provide a written assessment on a private web page, and add to it as we get more information about your dog’s particular issues.
Creating and Providing Sound Series
Once we have a baseline sound that doesn’t scare your dog, I will create a series of sounds that convert that sound to the scary sound. This could be anywhere from 5–20 sounds, depending on how much the baseline and trigger sounds differ.
I will provide these on the private web page, that being the best way to ensure that you don’t accidentally play one from your computer, out of order, and scare your dog!
If, during the process, you find that the transition from one of the sounds to the next is too scary, I will provide an intermediate sound for no cost.
There is no charge for the pre-screening.
I charge $50 an hour for my work, with a $50 minimum. Beyond $50, I prorate to the minute, and have caps on total charges. I keep a timesheet. I work to keep things affordable since I know clients are also paying a behavior consultant and likely a veterinary behaviorist.
The initial assessment (testing sounds, finding sounds the dog is not afraid of, being sure we understand what about the trigger sound is the scary part) is capped at $100.
Each sound series I create is capped at $100.
So, in the least expensive scenario, if the dog is scared of the beep of a particular microwave but not scared of some other digital beeps around the house, you might get an assessment and one sound series to condition to the microwave for between $50–$100.
If your dog is scared of multiple beeps, or some motor sounds, or if the trigger is hard to identify, the bill could go much higher. I’ll do whatever I can to keep it affordable. But just as in other kinds of training, some cases turn out to be complex.
There must be a qualified training professional involved, for instance, a behavior consultant or veterinary behaviorist. Sound sensitivity is a serious condition. Desensitization and counterconditioning must be overseen by a trained professional. I can advise on training issues related to acoustics, but I am not a professional trainer and can’t take that role.
I can’t guarantee success. Dogs are living, changing beings. Successful counterconditioning is challenging. The client’s sound system may be insufficient, or the dog may have an atypical response to sounds from a speaker compared to real-life sounds. The conditioned emotional response may not generalize until many individual examples of the sound are conditioned. But I will work with the owner and professional team toward the best possible outcome.
Please download, fill out, and submit the screening form to the email address included if you want to discuss whether your dog is a good candidate for this service.
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