OhMyDog!’s puppy trainer Tommaso demonstrating the key to exposing the pups to potentially scary stimuli: at such a distance that the pup NOTICES but DOES NOT MIND
This time, we are getting them used to the sound of a big wheelie bin being rolled around.
We instruct the dogs’ guardians to make a reward sound (i.e. clicker word) as soon as the dog orients towards the bin, this rewards the pup for noticing something incongruous and not getting emotional about it.
You start making the sound later and later as the dog learns to not only be calm, but stay calm, in the face of new objects and sounds.
Once you have made the sound, you lure the dog away from the ‘scary’ sound and only give the pup his/her reward when you are a few steps further away.
This is a double-reward for the pup: not only does he know you’ll be increasing the distance when you have made the sound, but he also knows new and strange things predict nice things (treat).
This principle is key to your pup’s behavioural health: introducing him/her to new and potentially scary things at such a benign level of intensity that the pup gets to NOTICE, BUT NOT MIND.