I’m tending a young pup now and I want her to take all sounds – known or new – in stride. At 8-weeks-old, her brain is a sponge. As part of her socialization, she will be out and about every other day but, being a baby, she can’t be out for that long before she gets tired. The rest of the time she’s at home with me. My task: to enrich her world of sound here and to do it in effective ways that are also simple.
Here are a few things I’ll be doing:
Playing Life Sounds – Many real-life sounds are available for purchase as either MP3 or CD. A great one is Sounds for Hounds: Noise Therapy Pups Nervous Dogs, which includes Doors Opening/Closing, Doorbells, Mail Through The Door, Telephone Ringing, Dishwasher, Extractor Fan, Hairdryer, Vacuum Cleaner, Power Tools and Lawn Mower, Washing Machine, Spin Cycle, Cats and Dogs Chickens, Pigs, Sheep, Horse, Ducks, Cow, Birdsong, Newborn Babies Crying, Baby Babble, Baby Laughing, Baby Squealing, Baby Playing With Toys, Toddler Crying, Children Playing, Crowds and Shopping Malls, Bangers and Firecrackers, Fireworks (Light Mix), Public Firework Display. Thunder, Gunshots, Hammering, Airplanes and Jets, Sirens, Joggers, Motorbikes and Cycles, Trains and the Underground/Metro, Background Traffic, Van Reversing, Car Alarm and Car Horns.
The advantage here is that you can set the volume low so the new sounds do not surprise or stress your pup. Then, over a period of days, you can play them louder until, eventually, they get to a more normal range. Do not blast your pup! Better to keep the sounds softer for longer than needed than to stress your dog. If you do it right, you’ll wonder if you’re doing anything at all. Turn these sounds on just before you feed your pup and leave them on for a few minutes after if you want to really set a positive association.
Note: Breeders, fosters and anyone raising a litter: Leaving this playing in the background for pups prepares them to be more adaptable and less stressed as adults. That is a simple gift every single litter raiser can give their pups and their future people.
You can, of course, leave the TV on or the radio. That is simple and better than nothing but have the disadvantage of not reliably covering so many real life sounds.
Buying Noisy Toys – It’s a great time to buy noisy toys. The plastic bottle toys such as Kyjen Plush Puppies Bottle Buddies Squeaker Toy and the crinkle toys like Grriggles Dog Toy can be fun entertainment for both of you. There are also a variety of toys that make realistic sounds such as the Look Who’s Talking line and the Loopies Sound Chip Toys. These can make you laugh but… are for supervised play only, as stated on the Look Who’s Talking Amazon page.
Using Food Toys – Hard plastic toys such as the IQ Treat Ball or Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug make plenty of sound when your puppy plays with them. These teach a pup to enjoy such noise (as it leads to food) and to be both persistent and bold as they play
Being the NoiseMaker – Clap when you praise, mix up meals in a metal bowl using a metal spoon (even if it’s just kibble), wear noise makers such as a Jazzy Jingles Holiday Jingle Bell Wrist Band. Vacuum in her vicinity – never at her and not too close at first. Toss treats on the floor just before you turn on the garbage disposal. If you can safely, put her crate on/next to the washer or dryer as they churn through a load, which is terrific prep for car travel and airplane trips.
Life is full of sounds – most of which your dog will never understand. Teaching her to accept them without worry is an investment that will pay major dividends for her entire lifetime.
Do you have favorite ways to include sounds in your socialization? Add it below! The more the merrier!