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Main Instructions for WeStopFear

The key to success is knowledge

Please familiarise yourself with these Main instructions, as well as the Important Details and Signs of Fear and Phobia. A quick overview is then available on the Quick Focus page.

This method is basically simple

The therapy method is basically very simple: Let your dog hear sounds that may cause fear or is causing fear already, starting very low in the beginning and gradually increasing in volume over the days and weeks, to full volume in the end. There, when successful, your dog has gotten used to the sounds at full volume, has always experienced no danger, and will no longer see them as a possible danger.

This solution is designed to be an innovative game changer

The five step, pre-set design of WeStopFear, with the innovations of Simple Secure Steps and Volume Anchor, should make this much easier, simpler and more secure than previous therapy methods. Yet, to implement this therapy successfully, it is necessary to honour certain principles and minding a few details.

Complicated?

The description here under may seem complicated, but don’t worry.

Just start by reading through the short overview below, (or watch the video). Each item in the list is the headline of a more thorough explanation lower down on the page. Just click the “Read more…” link for more.

A short video explanation

[Video]

Download the audio MP3 voice-over to listen in your MP3 player.

 

Read first: A short overview of the WeStopFear system

Read the list for a quick overview.
Each line includes a clickable link.
Click a link to read more about each item.

At the beginning of the program

1.A. > Determine the places where you will play the sounds.  It is important to play in all places where your dog spends some time. Create a list and write down – The link to a pre-made form to write down on is in the text below. (Read more…)

1.B. > Find out what audio devices you have for each place, to play the sounds on. Write down next to the places on the list. (Read more…)

1.C .> If you don’t have an audio device for a location, consider how to get one (borrow, rent, be given, buy). (Read more…)

1.D .> For the audio devices you have, find out what kind of audio media these devices use. Write down. (Read more…)

1.E. > Find the correct sound volume on your audio playing device(s), in each place. You will do that by playing the first track, the Volume Anchor piano tune, so that the piano music is at a comfortable listening volume level. (Read more…)
In each place, you will use that volume setting on that audio device, in all the steps throughout the therapy. (Read more…)

1.F. > If there are markings or a scale showing the volume in some numerical way, next to the volume button, write down the volume setting(s) on each device in each place, on the list. (Read more…)

1.G. > If there are no markings or scale by the volume button, use the Volume Anchor piano tune each time. (Read more…)

1.H. > Now you have what you need: A list you will easily refer to each time, (Don’t rely on memory.) (Read more…)

1.I. > How long should the duration of each sound playing session be? 70 minutes is average, although you can vary. Just make sure all sounds are played in a location, in each step.

1.J. > You will start with Step 1. Finish that, then go to Step 2, through Steps 3, 4 and 5, according to instructions below. (Read more…)

During the process, each time you play the sounds: Monitor your dog

2. > To monitor the state of your dog, refer to the List of Signs of Fear and Phobia in Dogs. (Read more…)
2. > Slight tension? (Read more…)
2. > Keep unchanged. Continue, until relaxed. When relaxed, change to the next step. (Read more…)

3. > Considerable tension? (Read more…)
3. > Lower the sound level, or lower back to previous step if necessary. Continue from there, until relaxed. When relaxed, change to the next step. (Read more…)

4. > Indifferent and relaxed? The step is finished successfully! (Read more…)
4. > Change to the next step, i.e. next disc/next folder with sound files above the one you are playing. (Read more…)
4. > If you are at Step 5 and see this reaction: Congratulations! The therapy is a success! (Read more…)

5. > During some of the steps: Extreme tension and fear, that won‘t go away? (Read more…)
5. > Stop the therapy and contact your vet. (Read more…)

Also consider this:

6. > Be balanced. Show no response. Don’t feel sorry or talk in a sorry voice. You may increase the fear by doing that. (Read more…)
6. > Don‘t let your dog sense that you manage the sounds. The sounds should come out of thin air, as if by coincidence. (Read more…)
6. >However, if your dog is perfectly happy and relaxed, you may reward. (Read more…)

7. > Play the sounds in random order for realism, and at different times of the day. (Read more…)

8. > Play the sounds in various places. This is to avoid locational tolerance. (Read more…)
8. > Obtain a portable sound equipment if you don’t have one. You can try getting it cheap, or borrow one. (Read more…)

9. > Keep the location free from other stimuli that may distract when doing the therapy. (Read more…)

10. > Do what you like while the noises are playing. Don’t become bored. Let all family members tolerate the process. Same goes for neighbours. (Read more…)

11. > Consult your vet before starting. (Read more…)

After finishing the five steps

12. > Maintain short recap of the therapy once in a while. Also a few days before known stress-inducing events. (Read more…)
12. > Total resistance of new sounds cannot be promised. However, there should be greater tolerance to new sounds. (Read more…)

 

Other main instructional pages:

Important Details >>

Quick Focus page >>

Fear Signs page >>

preventfear-dog-girl-w-puppy-940x618px

 

Simple Secure Steps Comprehensive Instructions – read an item of choice for full information

At the beginning of the program

Therapy Instruction # 1.A. of 12

1.A. > Determine the places where you will play the sounds. It is important to play in all places where your dog spends some time. Create a list and write down.

 

This could be:

  • Inside the main rooms in your home, where you keep your main audio system.
  • Inside another room.
  • In a garage or shed
  • Outside in various places
  • In the car

It is important to try to play the sounds in all the places where your dog may hear those sounds. Otherwise, your dog may become used to sounds in one place, but be afraid of them in a place where he has never heard them; (locational tolerance).

Write down the information

Create a list and write down the places, as well as the other information here after (device, media, volume setting).

A special form has been created in several versions, to make this easier for you. Right-click and download:

Form on RTF format (for PC and Mac).

Form on adobe PDF format

Form on MS-Excel (PC).

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Therapy Instruction # 1 B-C of 12

1.B. > Find out what audio devices you have for each place, to play the sounds on. Write down next to the places on the list.
1.C .> If you don’t have an audio device for a location, consider how to get one (borrow, rent, be given, buy).

 

The basic requirements for the audio devices are simple: In the last Step number 5, the device and the loudspeakers should be able to deliver a sound with a sound volume and sound quality that is reasonably close to the sounds of the actual phenomena, when they are heard in the natural setting (be it fireworks, traffic, household appliances, thunder, or anything else).

These devices could be:

  • A portable stereo of some kind, for instance a laptop computer, a portable stereo, a tablet or a smart phone, and loudspeaker set connected by cable or wi-fi or bluetooth.
  • A stationary stereo set/surround sound equipment in a room, with built-in or loose loudspeakers (two loudspeakers for a stereo, 5+1 loudspeakers for instance for a surround sound home cinema system), or perhaps a desktop comuter with loose loudspeakers.
  • A car stereo in the car.

Write down what device to use in each place on a list, (you may be using a portable stereo device in more than one place).

If you don’t have an audio device for a location, consider how to get one (someone may have an old portable stereo that you can borrow, you may be able to rent a device, someone might be happy to give you an old, perfectly working portable device when that person hears the purpose, or you may buy a new device, for instance because you think you want a new one to, otherwise, serve your musical needs).

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Therapy Instruction # 1.D. of 12

1.D .> For the audio devices you have, find out what kind of audio media these devices use. Write it down next to each audio device on the list.

 

These media could be:

  • Downloaded audio MP3 files sets (five sets for the five steps, zipped so you have to un-zip them, and place them in conveniently named folders, one folder for each MP3 set – for more on that, see the instructions page for MP3 audio files.)
  • Streaming audio, through your web connection (please note to use a free or low cost wi-fi connection for portable devices, otherwise your 3G or 4G cell phone system charges may become exuberantly high, although that is dependent on your service contract).
  • 5 audio CD discs you burn yourself using the MP3 files, (for instructions on how to burn CDs, see here).
  • Ready 5 audio CD disc set you buy here with your member’s discount, (see your member’s discount offer here).
  • Maybe even a data CD (on which you burn the MP3 files directly, and played in a computer or CD player that can play MP3 directly. That may be your choice if you are so technologically inclined).

Write down the audio media, just for your convenience, next to the device on the device list.

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Therapy Instruction # 1 E-G of 12

1.E. > Find the correct sound volume on your audio playing device(s).
In each place, you will use that volume setting on that audio device, in every step throughout the therapy.
1.F. > Write down the volume setting(s).
1.G. > If there are no markings or scale by the volume button, use the Volume Anchor piano tune each time. 

 

The Simple Secure Steps system is divided into five steps.

At the beginning of each step is a piano tune. When you have determined the sound volume for the piano tune, you have basically found the volume setting for all steps. The piano tune is the “volume anchor” , always set at the same volume in all steps. The therapy sounds of each step are then set correctly, from very low in the first step to full volume in the fifth step. This makes managing the volume much simpler, and is one of the fundamental benefits of Simple Secure Steps of Prevent Fear.

1.E.1. Set the piano music volume at the beginning to a comfortable listening level (not dinner music low, not loud as at a party, just in between). This means you are using the Volume Anchor piano music to “anchor” the volume at the right volume.

1.E.2. Find this volume setting for the Volume Anchor piano tune on all the audio devices you will be using, in the locations you are playing, so that the piano music is at the comfortable listening level. Locations that are different in size and acoustic characteristics may call for different settings on the same audio device. Write down the volume settings.

Note: The piano music should sound at a similar audio volume in all places, i.e. “a comfortable listening level” of the piano music. Since audio devices are different, with different amplifier power and different loudspeakers, then you need to find the volume setting on each device (often a scale from 1 to 10). If you are using a portable audio device, then the volume setting may be different in a small room, and outside, because the acoustic conditions are different in these two places. You probably need to set the volume higher outside. So you need to find this reasonable volume setting in each place, and write it down.

1.E.3. In a given place, you will be using this volume setting on that audio device unchanged, throughout the therapy, in all the five steps. However, you may alter it just slightly if you find it necessary. If it is necessary to lower the volume a bit in the beginning of a new step, instructions are at the bottom of each page for each step.

1.F. Write down the volume settings, for each audio device in each place. Don’t rely on memory.

1.G. If there is no volume meter, markings or scale next to the volume button on an audio device (be it a physical button or slider on a device, or “button” on the screen of a computer, or “button” on the touch-screen of a smart phone or tablet), and thus nothing to write down, then the Volume Anchor piano tune will help you find the right volume every time, (by finding the comfortable listening volume level of the piano music in that place, each and every time).
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Therapy Instruction # 1 of 12

1.H. > Now you have what you need: A list you will easily refer to each time, (Don’t rely on memory.)

Now you have a list of: The places where you will play the sounds, what audio device you use in each place, (and the audio media), and the audio volume setting on each device in each place.

It will be easy for you to refer to that list, each time you do the therapy. Don’t rely on memory.

Store that list in a good place.

Even, take a copy of it, or take a photo of it on your smart phone, so you have a copy in case the original list gets lost.


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Therapy Instruction # 1.I-J. of 12

1.I. > How long should the duration of each sound playing session be? 70 minutes is average, although you can vary. Just make sure all sounds are played in a location, in each step, until your dog is relaxed and indifferent.

1.J. > You will start with Step 1. Finish that, then go to Step 2, through Steps 3, 4 and 5, according to instructions below.

1.I. How long should the duration of each sound playing session be? 70 minutes is average, although you can vary. Just make sure all sounds are played in a location, in each step, until your dog is relaxed and indifferent.

Over the course of playing the sounds, in each of the five steps, it is necessary to play all the sounds, in all the places, so you can observe if your dog is afraid of some of the sounds in a particular place, at the volume level of the step you are at each time.

Since you are playing the sounds on a random/RND/shuffle setting, it may happen that a particular sound is played more than once in a session, and another sound isn’t played in that session. Over time, in several sessions, this should even out, so you have played all sounds in a place, and observed your dog’s reactions.

If you choose to play in shorter sessions, that is perfectly okay. However, then not all the sounds will be played. This means you need to play more often, meaning it will take more time to finish a certain step, in a certain place.

1.J. You will start with Step 1. Play the therapy sounds for Step 1 several times in each place (one place per day), on the audio device for that place, using the correct volume setting for that place. When your dog is relaxed over the sounds in all places, you will change to Step 2, playing the therapy sounds for Step 2 in the same way. When your dog is relaxed in all places, you will change to Step 3 in the same way, and then Step 4 and finally Step 5, which is the last and “graduation” step. When your dog is relaxed in all places at that sound volume, the therapy is successfully completed!

In short, this is the process:

Make the audio media for Step 1 ready, and play in the place you have chosen. Do this in all places. When your dog is used to the sounds at the volume level of Step 11 in all the places, it is time to go to Step 2.

Same process basically. Make the audio media for Step 2 ready, for the place you are playing in. Do this in all the places, until your dog has gotten used to the sounds at the volume level of Step 2. When that is the case, it is time to move to Step 3.

Steps 3, 4 and 5 are implemented in the same way.

Note: The Volume Anchor piano tune is always set at the same volume in the beginning of all the steps, but the subsequent therapy sounds in each sound file set are pre-set at different audio volumes, correctly for each step. this pre-setting is what makes the process much simpler to implement than in the most common therapy design (with one MP3 files set or one CD, where you have to manually set the volume correctly every time you play, correctly, from very low in the first plays to full volume in the last plays, potentially weeks later. That leads to the danger of accidentally playing the sounds too high too early, a danger that is eliminated with the pre-set volumes of this therapy solution. In step 1 the audio volume pre-set for the therapy sounds is so low that you can hardly hear it. It should be that way! In later steps, the audio volume becomes gradually higher, also pre-set at the correct volume for each of these steps.
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During the process, each time you play the sounds: Monitor your dog

Observe your dog‘s reactions through out the therapy.

While the sounds are playing, observe your dog from the corner of your eye. Don’t let it be obvious that you are watching! Is your dog tense, anxious, or completely relaxed and indifferent?

Follow the instructions below:

Therapy Instruction # 2 of 12

> To monitor the state of your dog, refer to the List of Signs of Fear and Phobia in Dogs.
> Slight tension?
> Keep unchanged. Continue, until relaxed. When relaxed, change to the next step.

While the process is on-going, keep an eye on your dog to monitor if he is relaxed or anxious. Refer to the comprehensive list of signs of fear and phobia in dogs, so you can accurately understand the psychological state your dog is in.

During all steps:

If you see just a little bit of tension and discomfort, you are in the right spot. Continue like this. You can edge the sound just slightly upwards.

When your dog gets used to the sound, and it is carefree and relaxed, next time, go to the next step above this.

This is the desired pattern over the weeks, increase a bit, step by step, continuously increasing the sound volume at the pace your dog can easily handle, and yet keeping it on the brink of stress all the time.
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Therapy Instruction # 3 of 12

> Considerable tension?
> Lower the sound level, or lower it back to a previous step if necessary. Continue from there, until your dog is relaxed. When he is relaxed, change to the next step.

During all steps:

If your dog expresses considerable anxiety and worry when the sounds are played, you can lower the sound level a bit. See guidelines for lowering the volume at the bottom of the page.

If the tension is still too great, go again to the step below this one, play it for some time until your dog is relaxed, then go one step up again.
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Therapy Instruction # 4 of 12

> Indifferent and relaxed? The step is finished successfully!
> Change to the next step, i.e. next disc/next folder with sound files above the one you are playing.
> If you are at Step 5 and see this reaction: congratulations! The therapy is a success!

During Steps 1 to 4:

Over the course of weeks or even months, tolerance will be built up to the sounds, as you gradually increase the sound volume, by changing from one step to the next, in the correct order.

Do you only see complete relaxation and not the least care about the sounds, in the step you currently are at? Next time you do a session (typically the day after) go to the next step.

At the end of Step 5:

When the sound volume coming from the sound equipment is realistically similar to the real “natural” sounds, and if you see only complete relaxation, no fear and no worry right in the middle of all these noises, then the therapy is a success!

Congratulations! Your dog has finished the noise phobia therapy.

Please see also therapy instruction # 12 for future recommendations.
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Therapy Instruction # 5 of 12

> During some of the steps: is there extreme tension and fear, that won’t go away?
> Stop the therapy and contact your vet.

During all steps (more so during earlier ones):

If your dog is extremely anxious, in a state of shock, commotion, or perceivably in mental pain, even if you lower down the sound volume, then you must stop.

Please contact your veterinarian. There may be other more serious problems affecting the situation (see the Important Details sections #10, 29 and 32).

Also consider this

How long will this process take?

It is impossible to answer that. Some dogs have very little propensity for noise phobia, while others may need 2-3 months. There is no better or worse in this, and you should not compete for the shortest time. Just let the sensitivity of your dog guide the speed.

What type of audio equipment should you use?

Please see the dedicated page about audio devices and acoustics, and also section #5 on the Important Details page.
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Therapy Instruction # 6 of 12

> Be balanced. Show no response. Don’t feel sorry or talk in a sorry voice. You may increase the dog’s fear by doing that.
> Don’t let your dog sense that you manage the sounds. The sounds should come out of thin air, as if by coincidence.
>However, if he is perfectly happy and relaxed, you may reward him.

How you react and behave is very important. Don’t show any reaction to the sounds or to your dog’s reactions to the sounds. Be calm and balanced as if nothing of any importance is going on. Just continue what you are doing while the sounds are playing. Remember, you know that these are just sounds from a sound system.

Ignore any signs of anxiety, if your dog is slightly stressed. (An exception to this rule is a situation as described in instruction # 5). This reaction of no reaction is actually being kind. Your dog will learn by observing you. It senses that there is no reason to be frightened, because YOU are not worried.

Don’t let your dog realize that you are setting off these sounds. They should simply appear without reason, like any other environmental sounds that your hear. It is your job to make sure it is so.

Warning: Some dog owners are rewarding unnecessary fear in their dog by talking in a soothing voice, consoling and feeling sorry for their dog. The dog then thinks that these sounds must be really dangerous since its owner reacts like this! By that, the owners are unknowingly training their dog to become MORE afraid of noises.

If your dog is perfectly happy and relaxed regardless of the sounds, then you can safely reward it by giving some comfort. By that, your are rewarding its well grounded balance and carefree stance.
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Therapy Instruction # 7 of 12

> Play the sounds in random order for realism, and at different times of the day.

Play the sounds in random order, using the random setting (RND or Shuffle). This is because these sounds don’t occur in the same order in the real world. Also have therapy sessions at different times of the day and night. It will increase the realism of the therapy.

Prevent Fear, first among noise phobia therapy solutions, offers even more realism. In the real world, these sounds don’t come right after one another, with only several seconds between. Natural Intervals adds random episodes of silence of various length, automatically, between the sounds as well!
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Therapy Instruction # 8 of 12

> Play the sounds in various places. This is to avoid locational tolerance.
> Obtain a portable sound equipment if you don’t have one. Try getting it cheap, or borrow one.

Play the sounds in the various locations and types of locations where your dog spends time.

This could be inside, outside, and in the car while driving. Otherwise, your dog may become used to the sounds in one place, but be fearful of them in other places. That is called locational tolerance.

To achieve this, you may have to use a portable audio system, that is powerful enough to give a realistic sound. If you will use a battery powered device, consider using re-chargeable batteries, for the environment, and to lower battery costs!
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Therapy Instruction # 9 of 12

> Keep the location free from other stimuli that may distract when doing the therapy.

Avoid unrelated things that demand attention.

Try to let the place be free from other environmental stimuli, for instance intrusive sounds, that may be distracting, while the therapy is being implemented.
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Therapy Instruction # 10 of 12

> Do what you like while the noises are playing. Don’t become bored. Let all family members tolerate the process. Same goes for neighbours.

Do whatever you like while the sounds are playing, and act as if nothing special is going on.

You could even listen to your favorite music in a MP3 player, using headphones. Don‘t let the therapy be too difficult for the human population. Their irritation could build up and become an obstacle to doing this. See the dedicated page „Keep everyone happy“.
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Therapy Instruction # 11 of 12

> Consult your vet before starting.

Consult your vet before starting this therapy with your dog. Your veterinarian may have special insights into your dog’s health and situation, since they know your dog’s medical history. Top

After finishing the five steps

Therapy Instruction # 12 of 12

> Maintain a short recap of the therapy once in a while. Also redo it a few days before known stress-inducing events.
> Total resistance of new sounds cannot be promised. However, there should be greater tolerance to new sounds.

Your dog‘s tolerance will not stay forever. It is advisable to maintain it by playing the sounds again, a few times each year. This could be before known fireworks events, or before the thunderstorm season.

It is probably enough to start at half volume, and it should take a shorter time. As before, let your dog‘s tolerance guide the speed.

A promise can not be given that your dog will have total resistance to any new sound, but there should be greater tolerance to new sounds. Your dog is more “worldly-wise” having mastered all these sounds in the therapy. It should take a shorter time than before to build tolerance. This is the brilliance of noise phobia therapy: To build up a tolerance for these alien noises, for a worry free life.
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(Stock images from 123rf.com, model release contract, referral link.)

Therapy Steps

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