There are a lot of dogs out there who are scared off by various noises. Hairdryers, vacuums and even your guitar playing (no matter how good you think it is) can all turn a dog into a howling mess. If you are finding that your dog is barking at your guitar instead of with it, there are some things you can try to help calm him down and get him to like your guitar music.
Pair the Music with a Treat
You can try to Pavlov your train your dog to love guitar music by giving him treats before you start to play. If he starts to bark, no treat, but for every five minutes of your playing that he remains calm you hand out a biscuit. This will help him to start associating your music playing with something good, and keep his mouth too busy to make any noise.
Let Your Dog Explore Your Guitar
It will probably need a good cleaning afterwards, but there is nothing wrong with allowing your dog to sniff around the guitar to learn that it is not a threat. Pluck a few chords while he is close by so that he sees it’s nothing more than a cool toy that makes different sounds.
It’s important to understand that dogs hearing is more acute than a humans, and the guitar music may actually be upsetting to this sensitivity. Training your dog to love the guitar may take weeks, but may also not be successful at all. If all else fails, install a wireless pet containment system around your yard and let your dog take care of his howling from outside. The neighbors may not be amused, but with a K9 fence in place, at least he’s not chasing their cat.
While these tricks will work for your guitar and other household noises, you will likely never be able to train away the fear of fireworks or thunderstorms. Since these are unpredictable events, the only thing you can do to help calm the dogs nerves is to try and be reassuring, or at the very least, allow them to hide out shivering under the bed until it is over. That may be hard to handle for a loving pet owner, but it’s the best way in which the dog knows how to handle the shocks to their ears.
It’s a challenge for some guitar players to get through a practice with a dog around, while others may find the dog likes to sing along. Try to accept that their reactions are normal, and train them to become guitar music lovers as well.