NYC/Urban Owners: Tips on getting a puppy used to loud street noise?

  • Just wondering if anyone has advice or anecdotal experience on helping a puppy get used to being outside on busy/loud NYC streets.

    Unfortunately, we live on a relatively loud street so our pup gets pretty scared the moment we're out the door. Even if we carry him to a quieter side street, he gets scared when cars go by. We've been trying to condition him by taking him out and feeding him food/treats to help get his mind off the noise.

    Anything else you'd recommend?

  • He might get used to it naturally over time; maybe it's obvious to you already, but don't give him a treat if he's showing fear. Best not to do anything really….what I do is stand still and relax if they try to run away [if possible]. Puppies will imitate your behavior, so if you start freaking out at something or get on edge they'll feed off of that. Redirection (with food) is helpful if they start fixating on something scary.

    As long as you're rewarding him when he eventually switches from fear to curiosity, that's all there is to it really…at least when dealing with an already well socialized pup. Commands 'touch' 'look' and 'watch' are all very helpful later on for helping a dog confront something adult dog has had a couple of times where he saw something 'off' and started getting fearful and I'm glad I taught him it only took about 30 seconds for him to get over it. Fearful dogs who don't have the confidence to confront their fears are not fun to deal with.

  • When you are dealing with something that an animal is afraid of, the best approach is to find his "comfort" distance from the thing that scares him. A busy street makes this a bit more difficult, as you have to find a way to give him that "distance". If you have a car, maybe transporting him to a less busy area might make a good start. Perhaps a side street, where he is comfortably away from busy traffic. You could then walk toward the busy street, pausing as soon as you see some sign of anxiety, and retracing your steps just little until he is in his "comfort zone" again. Gradually…...with the use of bribery and rewards......ask him to approach closer to the scary stuff. Liberally reward him for being there, then retreat. The idea is to not force, let him decide when he is ready. If he feels he can retreat at any time, he will have more confidence. This approach may take awhile, but is less likely to create a permanent aversion. (it works well with spooky horses).

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