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My son plays the saxophone and practices every night. The sound of a live instrument playing solo in the house is far different from having the radio on--it has much more resonance.

My best idea so far would be to have my son give the pup a rawhide (so her mouth is busy and less likely to bark) and keep an eye on her while softly playing scales for a few minutes, then remove the rawhide after he was done playing, so that the playing was associated with the rawhide fun and keeping the mouth busy. Then he could slowly work up the time and volume.

Are there better ideas or any direct experience with this kind of situation? Would it be best to start with low scales?

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I had a similar situation with industrial equipment that creates both noise and vibrations. I tried using rawhide bones, but that did not distract my pup from the equipment, and she howled and lunged at it. Here's the process:

  • Place the instrument on the ground or on a floor cushion with a few high value treats in a trail leading to it. I recommend treats that your dog only gets when you are using your instruments. String cheese, freeze dried liver bits, lean, crip bacon are all good options.
  • Do no play the instrument or pick it up. Allow your dog to eat the treats and sniff the instrument. Praise her when she gets close to the instrument.
  • Do this several times a day for a 4-5 days, and slowly move the treats closer to the instrument. Eventually your dog will associate the instrument with the special treats and should not show signs of anxiety when you present the instrument.
  • Repeat this cycle again as you begin to play the instrument. Start with soft scales.
  • Go slow (several times a day, 4-5 days/cycle) as you work towards increasing the volume and intensity.
  • If at any time your dog becomes anxious, go to the beginning of that cycle.

It's time consuming, but it worked well for me, and my dog no longer requires treats when I am using industrial equipment. Good luck!

  • 2
    This is exactly how I acclimated my puppy to both the blow dryer and construction equipment. Worked like a charm - she loves being blow dried after baths now and tolerates the construction happening near our home without barking/lunging/etc. Highly recommend this approach. – LMGagne Dec 21 '16 at 20:08

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