Lack of socializing, obedience training and fear
(Oshawa, Ont. Canada)
From Allen... Six weeks ago we brought home a Georgia, 4-year-old Boxer/Lab rescued male who badly needed socialization (going well), obedience training (hit and miss), and security of home (good) - except when he gets an idea in his head (unshakable Boxer trait).
He pees at the slightest noise (spoon dropping, large vehicles, etc.). He was a puppy when he was put into the kill pound and has spent the last three years in kennels and cages with up to 300 dogs and no real attachments to people.
He is loving and gentle, but the frequent urination is disturbing.
Thanks for your question. Fear is a tough one to help a dog overcome, especially when it is so ingrained in him/her (about 3 years in your dog's case).
Basically, all you can really do is desensitize him to all these different sounds, and train a different response into him.
Start with a sound that is not extremely loud or scary (i.e. dropping a pen on the floor), and immediately after doing so, give your dog a treat and/or verbally and physically praise him.
Do this often enough, and he will begin to associate that sound with treats and petting instead of being afraid.
It will definitely take time, but if you have the patience and time to give to him, you can help him overcome these fears.
In a nutshell, you are trying to replace his negative associations with positive ones by exposing him to these different sounds and environments as much as possible and praising him when he hears or sees them.
As a side note, be careful that you don't praise him for being afraid - you'll want to pop him that treat or pet him at the same time that the scary noise is heard (before he can react negatively).