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We have a challenge for you; I hope you can help us.
We have a one year old border collie named Zippy. She is very active and we do a lot of play and exercise with her. Our problem is that every time we are in the kitchen opening the silverware drawer or any drawer that makes noises, she goes crazy. She runs around in circles, bolts to our living room and then makes more circles! If we do any kind of paperwork, tearing paper or tearing out checks she does the same thing. When she does this we can't get her attention at all, she just goes berserk! She is such a good dog, she knows all kinds of tricks and is good on commands except for this one problem.
I hope you can help us on this.
Thank you for your email.
First of all, I recommend that you desensitize Zippy to the things which make her go berserk.
You can do this by having her in the kitchen with you (unleashed) and spending a minimum of 10 minutes a day opening the drawer and closing it. Do this quietly to begin with, but as the days go by do it progressively louder, until you are really clattering that cutlery!
You will have to completely ignore her reaction and act as if she is not there, act calm, because if you give her any attention you will probably just exaggerate her excitement and ruin the objective of the exercise.
After you have done the silverware trick as above, spend 10 minutes ripping paper in a casual and neutral manner. Do not even look at her if/when she reacts to the paper tearing. In fact, initially, it might pay to continue the paper ripping until she calms down if it is possible. Then make sure you reward her for any positive behavior, to reinforce what you want from her.
In psychology they refer to this treatment as "Flooding". It is the same concept as making a person face their fears, or neutralizing an exciting task by having to do it all the time. Consistency is the key with this training.
After a while you can move on and have someone make her sit on a short lead while you continue the desensitizing process using the cutlery and paper ripping as described previously. Again reward her for any positive change in behavior, she may not change her behavior instantly, but if there is a slight change, stop what you are doing and reward her, even if it is just a "Good Dog!"
If it is possible, make a tape recording of the noises which she reacts to. Play them to her quietly and as often as possible when you know she can not hurt herself. If she is really noisy, it might be a good idea to inform and warn your neighbors about what you are doing.
That should do the trick, just keep persevering and you'll get there!
Best of luck,
Daniel Stevens and the Secrets to Dog Training Team
Thank you so much for the suggestion. We have started doing what you suggested and it does seem like it is going to work. Like you said, be consistent. I will let you know later on how we are doing.
Again, thank you.
I've been a professional dog trainer for well over 20 years, and in that time I've helped thousands of dog owners just like you to get the friendly, well behaved, slipper fetching, best pal they always wanted.
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