Desensitizing: to lessen the sensitiveness of, to make indifferent, unaware, or the like, in feeling.
I have a great deal of desensitizing to do; with a new puppy in the house one cannot skirt the realization that dogs have unbelievable senses. Living with dogs that slowly moved into the not so great hearing or seeing zone you tend to forget. So I have a lot of anticipation going on with the new one. Most of the anticipation is around feeding; she is a frenzy feeder, it seems that she can never get enough so the smallest of signals that it is feeding time sends her into a zone.
The first step I have taken to break this is to hand feed her; I have gone between that and having her sit as I put small amounts into her bowl. She is eating 4 times a day so it is not long between meals and she is getting a great deal of cheerios between meals with her training. Yesterday I saved a whole meal as training rewards; making her work for her food. This is great for grooming as well; dishing out food as I brush her makes brushing a wonderful thing.
I have to work on desensitizing the bowls; when she hears the sound of stainless hit the counter it begins. So today there will be lots of stainless hitting the counter for no reason at all. This is how you desensitize, you make the trigger sound a non issue. This will be difficult because I still have to feed my dogs and I'm not throwing out all of my stainless bowls. So with enough work I hope to lessen the frenzy zone to an inquisitive look.
Probably the biggest behavior problem over the years with clients as far as desensitizing has been leash crazies. You know when you get the leash out or even move close to where the leashes are kept and your dog is sent into a frenzy? Depending on where the behavior starts is where you start your desensitizing. If you reach for the leash cupboard handle and it begins then you do this all day, every time you pass that cupboard. Once you achieve the handle touch you can move to swinging the door open, getting closer to the leashes with each success. Moving towards the goal of having calm dogs sitting to get their leashes on is totally doable.
Desensitizing must be done in baby steps to achieve success. You have no choice but to attack the behavior at the fledgling stage. Once a frenzy behavior is well into the zone it is very difficult to break through. This is where most people make the mistake. A dog in full frenzy mode is zoned out so to speak, they cannot even hear you. So you have to get in there before they are in the zone.
Luckily desensitizing is fairly easy; dogs are amazingly intelligent and they learn through association. This is how you get into the zone in the first place, association and smarts. So it is also how you get out.