Anxiety to Bells

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Anxiety to Bells

This is a discussion on Anxiety to Bells within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; My husband and I rescued our sweet pitbull/sharpei mix, Daisy, 2 years ago at roughly the age of 5. It wasn't until long into having ...

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Old 08-27-2018, 06:00 PM
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Anxiety to Bells

My husband and I rescued our sweet pitbull/sharpei mix, Daisy, 2 years ago at roughly the age of 5. It wasn't until long into having her as a part of our family that we noticed she would randomly have anxiety attacks where she would come to us shaking and panting, sometimes trying to find a place to hide. It took us quite awhile before we realized that her anxiety attacks weren't random at all.
Daisy is terrified of the sound of bells. Anything from the ding of a call bell you would find at a deli or the pounding of a school bell (which annoyingly sets the scene in every TV show that takes place at a school), a bell would ring, and Daisy would panic.
Her anxiety attacks often feel unavoidable, because the sound of a bell can be wildly unpredictable while watching a movie or TV show, or even in real life.

I'm here to see if any of you have any idea where this anxiety is stemming from. My guess is that she has some sort of bad association with the sound of bells. She was in an animal shelter for 2 months before we adopted her, but we don't know her history beyond that. I half wonder if she was in dogfighting (do they use bells like they would a normal boxing match?), but I strongly doubt it. She is the most gentle dog I have ever encountered and has never demonstrated an ounce of aggression since we've adopted her.

I'm also curious if anyone has any advice on how to ease her PTSD. I really hate seeing her in so much stress, and I feel I can't easily prevent the anxiety attacks from happening. We've tried consoling her, carrying on like normal, trying to distract her with chewies or treats, but none of it has seemed to work thus far. Thanks!

Last edited by brandycanycane; 08-27-2018 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 08-27-2018, 07:37 PM
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Yes, you can certainly help Daisy to overcome her anxiety over hearing bells ring!

My guess is that maybe at one point in time something bad happened at the same time as a bell rang. Or maybe as a puppy, bells rang and it frightened her and no one helped her overcome her feeling of fear.

My Gracie dog was terrified of squeaky/noisy dog toys. I mean terrified. One time a customer was playing with Gracie on the floor in my shop and the girl grabbed a talking stuffed parrot. Gracie slipped her harness and bolted for the door.

And then later my friend gave us a blue stuffed dog toy that looks nothing like a real dog. But if I showed it to her she would panic. Esp when I squeaked it. She would literally bare her teeth at it and growl. All fear.

What did I do? I started counter conditioning her to the animal first and then the sound. I would say: "Where's Blue?" and then say "Touch Blue" and when she touched it with her nose I gave her tons of high value treats. Made a fun game out of it with lots of praise and yummy food. She can see it/ touch it now with no panic.

Do the same with bells for Daisy. I would start with a light sounding SMALL bell, ring it at a distance from her, then give the treats. So Bell chime= food reward and "good job, daisy!" or "yes!" as I like to do for quick positive reinforcement. Say "yes!", then pay. Be generous with the food rewards because this is

Gradually increase the noise level of the bell, and the distance from Daisy. Maybe go to thrift stores and buys some different bells or wind chimes, etc. I'm sure you can find some Utube videos of bell sounds and play those for Daisy. Even some ring tones on our cell phones mimic bells. And you can vary the volume on your phone.

Practice several times a day in short sessions for best results.

Be creative, make a fun rewarding game of it, have patience and you will probably see that soon Daisy will look forward to a bell ringing since it comes with a paycheck for her

Counter conditioning works!!
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Old 08-28-2018, 05:57 AM
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There may have been a bell at the shelter possibly for the door to let them know someones entered or at the counter to get attention at reception. The bad association might be the shelter. Ive heard that separation anxiety dog jackets work on some dogs. They are tight so supposed to be reassuring. I wrap mine snug in a blanket. Have you tried singing in a rocking chair cuddling your dog? my dog loves it & calms down. Sometimes just taking them away from where the bell noise is for 5 or 10 mins really helps & then show the t.v & say words your dog might know to explain the bells gone now, look all ok. If I show her distractions- things she likes to watch once she's calmed down a bit. eg a dog doing fun stuff on utube, like a dog surfing & skateboarding. Somehow my dog can see t.v when no1 elses dog I know can. They only hear it. So ahh your dog would need to be able to see t.v for that to work. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2018, 06:20 AM
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The reason that food might not work on all dogs, mines one of these, is that the anxiety can cause a lack of appetite. My dog wil spit the treats out or refuse them & shiver all over. She's so sensitive that Ive had to use other positive associations and her thing is cuddles, there will be something your dog loves more than food or cuddles if theyre not working. It might be playtime or a quick walk or fetch that will calm your dog around bells. I don't purposely expose my dog to things she hates as it just upsets her unnecesarily. She's such a wee sook. Not all methods work on all dogs as some may have different personalities & reactions also varying degrees of trauma, some which can be overcome & some that turn into worse phobias with exposure. A person with ptsd from war is not told to hear gun shots everyday during recovery, they are told to avoid reminders regardless of wether you give them chocolate icecream with it. I guess you'll have to try a few & see what results you get. is offline   Reply With Quote

anxiety, bells, fear, ptsd, rescue dog

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