Sound Desensitisation / Sound Therapy

Sound desensitisation (also known as sound therapy) is a proven way of managing sound related unwanted behaviours in dogs and cats. It involves exposing your pet to various noises in a controlled way and is recognised to be successful in helping pets become less sensitive to sounds and noise such as fireworks, thunder and lightning. Many people are not aware that the process of desensitisation can take approximately 6-8 months. 

Eight minute read

Lots of different sounds can cause your pet to be uneasy. We have provided a sound desensitisation guide below to help your pet to cope with fireworks. You will need speakers and volume control on your PC or tablet to make use of this programme.

Hints and Tips:
Do in various rooms

Do the sound desensitisation in various rooms in the house – sounds in real life are unpredictable. 

With different people around

Have different people present during different sessions, and do it at different times of day. 

If possible, include outside as one of your “rooms”.
Take it slow

Go at your pet’s pace – it can seem very slow but if you rush it the programme won’t work.


Don’t react to the noises yourself.

Don’t carry out the programme when fireworks are likely to occur e.g. Bonfire Night or New Year.

Use treats and toys

Treats and chew toys can help them last longer.

Give them Zylkene

Zylkene can help support your pet while carrying out this process and maximise your chances of success.

Ask for advice
Ask your vet or qualified behaviourist for more advice on helping your pet cope with fireworks.
6-8 months in advance

This programme should be carried out ideally 6-8 months in advance of any events occurring such as Bonfire Night.

Sound desensitisation Programme
The programme is comprised of three different tracks:

Keep using Zylkene calming supplements until you are completely convinced your pet is comfortable in their new home. For some this may be days, for others it could take months. 

1. Component fireworks sound (1 min 58 sec)

2. Complete fireworks sound (5 min 1 sec)

3. Complete fireworks display (4 min 30 sec) 

Finding the starting volume​

The starting volume is the highest volume your pet will tolerate without any reaction. This sound may be very quiet, don’t worry if you are barely able to hear it. 

1. Make sure your pet is settled and calm with a long lasting treat or toy
2. Play the component sound track at 0 volume
3. Slowly increase the volume (remember there are gaps between the sounds, don’t increase too quickly) until your pet shows a mild reaction e.g. ear twitch
4. Turn the volume back to where your pet did not react – this is your starting volume. It’s a good idea to write this down.
5. If your pet shows an extreme reaction yet you can hardly hear the sound, please consult your veterinary surgeon or qualified animal behaviourist.

Starting the programme​
Remember to check the volume setting before you start.
  1. Make sure your pet is settled and calm with a long lasting treat or toy in a room where he feels comfortable.
  2. Play the component firework sounds track at the starting volume as established above.
  1. If your pet DOES show a reaction to the sound:
    • Switch off the track
    • Do NOT interact with your pet in any way
    • Try again later at a lower volume and when your pet has completely calmed down.
  2.  If your pet does NOT react:
    • You may reward this calm behaviour
    • Play the track for a minute then stop
    • Play the track again later or the next day at the same volume,
  3. Continue this exercise daily until the pet is relaxed throughout the whole track. Each track will loop automatically so you can play it for the desired amount of time (10 – 15 minutes).
  4. Each session can be performed many times each day as long as your pet is relaxed when you begin each session. At least one session per day should be carried out.
  5. Start the process again at step 1, but at a slightly higher volume. Again start with one minute sessions and gradually increase the length in one minute increments.
  6. Keep increasing the volume in this slow and controlled way until your pet is relaxed when the track is played at a realistic volume. Make sure they are relaxed with this track at this volume 2 or 3 times and at different times of day before moving on to the complete firework sounds track.
  7. Begin the whole process again with the complete firework sounds. Remember to check the volume setting before you start.
  1. Once your pet is happy with a complete firework sound at a realistic volume 2 or 3 times and at different times of day, move on to the complete firework display. Remember to check the volume setting before you start.