Relaxation Training and Decreasing Noise Sensitivity

Dr. Jeff

Feb 23, 2017
Hi everyone-

Fears and phobias, especially stranger danger and noise sensitivity are both life-limiting challenges for our dogs and cats.

The better our pets are balanced, the less the noise sensitivity.

Not only will this balance help noise phobia or stranger danger, like with Leo the kitty who runs away whenever people come to the house, but improved balance also optimizes your pets immune systems to decreases sensitivity to bacteria, viruses, etc.

This internal balance can come with age ("growing out of it"), time and supportive care like building Vitality and working with their bodies by avoiding toxins and "antis".

You can also do this gently and effectively (and often faster) through internal energetic treatment with homeopathy, Chinese Medicine, ayurveda, etc.

One way to support your pets' bodies while they heal is with behavior modification that increases their parasympathetic nervous system and "relaxation response".

Click/tap here for a vet article in your HMDM folder (indexed by "fear") about behavior modification for thunder and other noise phobia.

We'll put Holistic Actions! like this into context during Monday's Empower Hour! webinar.

Click/tap here for the details of behavior specialist vet Dr. Karen Overall's method to teach relaxation.

Here's a trainer discussing some of the benefits of this technique:

We'd love to hear if you have you had any success or failures with training for relaxation.


HA! Faculty
Mar 21, 2017
Since we talked about using Conditioned Reinforcers in the Tstorm/ Noise fear EH last night, I thought I'd post this to help you get started:

Even before you get that first behavior, you want to establish a Conditioned Reinforcer (CR).

A CR is something that your dog has learned to like by associating it with one of his primary reinforcers (like food or something the dog really likes).

For training purposes, you want to establish a specific CR, so that you can isolate and mark a behavior (or piece of one) for primary reinforcerment.

It’s basically the bridge between the behavior you want and the dog’s reward. It lets her know she did something right, and is going to be rewarded for it.

Establishing a CR is easy. Simply decide what you want your CR to be, and pair it with a Primary Reinforcer until your dog makes an obvious connection between them.

It might take only a few repetitions for some dogs to learn that their CR means good stuff for them, while others may need more practice. Most dogs figure it out in only a few brief sessions of multiple repetitions.

Clickers, which are small plastic and metal noisemakers, are popularly used as CR, but many people use a verbal CR like “YES!”, “GREAT!”, Or “BINGO!”

The word or sound you use isn’t at all important, but using it consistently and correctly is.

To get started, take your dog and some tasty treats somewhere with a low distraction level. You are not asking or expecting anything of your dog at this point, just click or say your CR and then give your dog a treat. Repeat 5-10 times per session.

This is often called “loading” or “charging” the CR. Make sure you use your CR, whatever it is, before you make a move to give your dog a treat.

Remember, your dog is visual, not verbal, and you want your intended CR to tell her dog the treat is coming, not the motion of your hands.

You also want to make sure you are not marking and rewarding unwanted behaviors like pawing at you or the treats, jumping up, or barking at you- any or all of which may happen in the early stages of training.

When you see your dog visibly startle or respond in a positive way when she hears her CR, it’s time to move on and get some behaviors!

I will post a game to help establish the CR separately, and you can also check the Facebook HA! group for videos I've posted there.
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Dr. Christina

Jun 15, 2017
Thanks so much for the post, Jennifer.

This is so important for all behavior training, not just for noise sensitivity or fears, that I would like to review to be clear.

First a question - could there be problems using words for the CR that could be used in other ways - like yes, or great? Maybe Bingo or another word that is not often used would be better?

Step one is to decide on the CR.
Step 2 - Teach every one who is around your pet the CR
Step 3 - "load" or "charge" the CR
Step 4 - start to use it/play some games.

I would love some of examples of cats being trained this way!

Dr. Christina

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