A few years ago my fearless dog Gracie started having panic attacks. She heard noises from our neighbors upstairs that sounded like marbles being dropped. Every time she heard it she would bolt, panting heavily, and scramble up into my lap with wild eyes.

Normally, if a sound was frightening a dog I would treat him or her using counter-conditioning and desensitization.

For example, If the dog was afraid of the doorbell ringing, I would make an MP3 of a doorbell, play it at a very low volume, click and treat her for not reacting to the sound. Increase the volume every day as long as she doesn’t react. If there is a reaction, start again at a lower volume.

The problem with Gracie’s training was, while I could make an MP3 of marbles being dropped, I couldn’t simulate the sound of them being dropped on the ceiling, and that’s what was triggering Gracie’s panic attacks.

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