Take A Sonic Inventory of Your Environment

Sound is like air, it’s so ubiquitous we rarely think about it unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic. The Through A Dog’s Ear Sonic Inventory is our way of raising awareness of the noise in our dog’s environment by taking the following steps:

  1. Sit quietly for 30 minutes, pen and pad in hand.
  2. Tune into the sounds you hear inside your home and outside on the street—the hum of the fridge, the cycle prompt of the dishwasher, the beat of a dryer, the alarm clock, hair dryer, vacuum, television, telephones, computers, video games, traffic, car alarms, air traffic, screaming children, stereos, etc.
  3. Notice your dog’s behavior. Does he actively respond to the sounds? Is there a lack of reaction, or an overreaction to sounds you take in stride? When TV, radio or music is playing, does your dog move closer to the source or away from it?
  4. Rate the sounds from one to ten, ten being the most disturbing, one the least noticeable. Use two columns—one for your pooch and one for yourself. The goal is to have the lowest numbers you can.
  5. Ask yourself how you can make your home a calmer, more peaceful place. Which sounds can you change? Which can you avoid, turn down, or mask? Often, just by listening, we become more sonically aware, an important first step.

Canine professionals―veterinarians, groomers, kennel and shelter operators, trainers, etc.―should also consider taking a Sonic Inventory of their respective environments. They may be surprised to discover how often a dog jumps when a cage door slams, electric clippers are turned on, the vacuum cleaner picks up hair, staff members yell across the room, or the intercom blares.

Be aware of the environment your patients are being exposed to, especially when they are recovering from surgery or a severe illness. If you are working with a reactive or anxious dog, consider gathering an environmental history. Ask about television habits, construction in the area, and whether or not the family lives on an ambulance run.

Excerpted from Through A Dog’s Ear.
© 2008 Joshua Leeds and Susan Wagner. All rights reserved.

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