Desensitizing and avoiding sound phobias

Avoiding sound phobias for your puppy starts with desensitization. Too many of you already know a dog that is terrified of thunderstorms, fireworks or even the vacuum.

Knowing where to start and when is the right time to expose your puppy to sounds and stimulus is critical. Every puppy should be given the opportunity to grow into a #ConfidentCityDog.

I would love to help set you and your puppy on a path to success. I have outlined some behaviour modification definitions below as well as a list of sound effect recordings that I’ve found useful. If you have a dog with a phobia or a fearful rescue I can help you with a step by step program

What is desensitization?

Desensitization is exposing a dog to a stimulus such as sounds. When the dog does not have a phobia or fear of the sound you can desensitize. The best example is a new puppy who is being exposed to these noises for the first time. We are using a predict and prevent method exposing your dog to sounds that they will hear in their daily life or regularly in their lifetime.

Our goal is to habituate the dog to the noises of the industrialized world that we live in. We can use recorded sound effects in a controlled environment to softly and gradually introduce the dog to the sounds and normalize the sounds. The sounds are never blasted but introduced quietly and then gradually increased. We use food, bones, chew items, playing with toys and affection to condition the dog to enjoy and tolerate the noises.

Habituation happens when the exposure is delivered in a controlled predictable pattern that is safe and repetitive. If your dog already has a phobia of specific noises do not attempt to desensitize with out a dog training professional. Accidental or intentional flooding is traumatic and can make the phobia worse.

What is flooding?

Flooding is putting the dog in an escape proof environment and exposing them to the stressful sounds or phobia. (example fireworks).

This is traumatic, and once started it has to be continued until the dog relaxes and excepts the sounds in order to for flooding to be effective. This can take hours and hours. The dog may urinate, defecate, howl and scratch hard enough trying to escape that nails break and or the dog just shut down.

It is cruel and if the session is stopped before the dog relaxes and accepts the noise, it is likely to just make the phobia worse. The last thing you want is your dog thinking that barking or howling or other fearful behaviour succeeded in making the noise to stop. Flooding is not recommended.

What is counter-conditioning?

Counter-conditioning is changing the way a dog feels and responds to a specific stimulus or noise. Counter-conditioning is used with desensitizing to successfully overcome canine fears. When dealing with phobias a veterinary visit is recommended. Working in partnership with your veterinarian to understand if one of the solutions might be anxiety supplements or medication, could be pivotal in setting your dog up for success and having long lasting effects.

Desensitizing/conditioning and counter-conditioning is only successful when done at your dog’s pace. It will only work if you expose your dog slowly and your dog can see predictability for a positive outcome. It’s critical that your dog has control of the start and finish and I can help you with this. Exposure to stress/sounds without the dog feeling in control is sensitization and does not improve their tolerance or confidence.

Below is a list of sound effect videos that I have found useful and effective.

Please contact me to schedule an in person desensitization session. Every dog deserves to live fear free.






City sound effects – traffic


Harley -

Sport Bikes -



Dog Tags

Squeaky Toys

Baby Crying

Children Playing


Heart Beat

Tranquil Music

Ocean White Noise

Rain White Noise

Fan White Noise

#BehaviouradjustmentTraining #dogtraining #fearfuldog #shydog #reactivedog