How to desensitize to sound.....need advice.
I write today to elicit some thoughts on effective ways to desensitize your dog to loud sounds.
Otto is 10months and intact. I would characterize his sensitivity to sound as mild. I wouldn't really even call it a problem, however there are times when he will be reactive to loud sounds.
I shoot skeet competitively so he has had quite a bit of exposure to loud sounds from an early age. So I see this as strengthening his training as opposed to fixing a problem.
Since his nerves are generally very strong, I feel that the proper approach to the occasional loud noise will allow me to fine tune his sensitivity to sound and further strengthen his temperament.
An example is on one of our walking routes there is a very low train bridge that has frequent train traffic. A mile long freight train passing 10 feet over your head is certainly a stressor, for anyone. I use this frequently as a training tool.
My tactic is to stand right under the bridge and put Otto in a sit stay and stand completely still with him by my side. No real praise or anything, I just stand there and pretend it is not happening. I can tell he wants to run away but I just try to be as calm as possible. Then after it is all over, I throw him a party.
Most sounds are a one time deal so it is hard for me to replicate most of the sounds that will frighten him in a controlled setting. There really aren't that many that do scare him. Loud motorcycles are the worst for Otto.
Am I taking the right approach? Obviously the wrong approach could manifest a problem that didn't previously exist so that is why I ask.
Any and all thoughts are appreciated.