How to Desensitize Your Dog to Loud NoisesHow to Desensitize Your Dog to Loud Noises


More dogs are lost on the 4th of July than any other day. Why? Because most dogs only hear fireworks once or twice a year and they’re scary. Most of the time, the dog has no prior experience with fireworks or anything similar and it’s first experience is terrible.

So, how do we help it? We desensitize. I’ll go though how to desensitize using mealtime, playtime, and the maintenance involved in keeping your dog desensitized.

Even if your dog is not showing any signs of fear to loud noises now, these are good practices to start to keep them in that good head space.

When to train.

If your dog freaks out on the 4th of July, the time to start training is on the 5th of July, during the day. If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms the time to start training is on a beautiful sunny day.

Most people have heard of Pavlov and his dogs. The super simple version is he rang a bell before meal times and eventually his dogs started salivating at the sound of the bell whether or not food followed. This is called classical conditioning.

That’s what I want you to start doing with your dog. Start associating loud noises with things your dog likes.


Turn on a recording of fireworks/thunder/cars, etc. very low. If your dog still seems freaked out put it in a different room and feed your dog dinner.

Do this for every meal, slowly turning up the volume each session or two.

If your dog starts to look a little nervous, stay on that volume level for several sessions until they eat their food like a champ at that level then continue.

Your dog may never get to the point where it’s blaring, dogs have much better hearing than we do and it starts to hurt earlier but they will start to get used to the sounds and feel less anxious and scared.

*Some dogs are very sensitive to barometric pressure changes and will still be scared of storms but these protocols can still help.


If your dog goes gaga over a toy start making playtime more strategic.

If they’re already scared of loud noises do the aforementioned feeding routine and also start incorporating playtime.

Play the sounds quietly at first while you play fetch, tug, or just run around with your dog.

Start increasing the sound gradually and if your dog starts acting worried try getting more animated and acting like you’re having the best time in the world with their favorite toy/game.

If they’re too stressed to play you may have gone too fast. It’s totally fine to back up a bit but make sure you go slower next time.

If your dog has never shown fear of loud noises, start incorporating play while they are happening. I’m partial to tug of war, and make a habit of playing with my dogs during storms and fireworks.


You have to keep doing these things regularly to keep your dog in a better space. Even if your dog seems completely fine, continue to play and have meal times to “scary” noises.

You can switch it up! Use thunderstorms one day, fireworks one day, cars backfiring one day, and the sound of the mailman one day.

These routines can be used for a myriad of things: dogs barking, the doorbell, knocking on the door, traffic, children playing, ect so pick something your dog gets weird about and start desensitization!

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