watchOS notification sound freaks out our dog

My husband has had an Apple Watch series 3 for several years. Our 10-year old maltipoo recently had some traumatic eye issues and now he completely freaks out whenever the notification BEEP sounds on the Apple Watch. He runs to another room, and if he can find me, he tries to crawl behind my back.

Apple clearly states that the notification tone cannot be changed. For various reasons, the haptics aren’t enough for him to catch all the notifications.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Other alert sounds (our iPhones, my MacBook, the kitchen timer) get the dog’s attention but not the same dramatic reaction.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
Marie in TX

Depending on what events he wants alerts for, perhaps he can find a non-Apple app that can produce a gentler alert for such events.

Even if it’s easy to change the sound, that won’t actually solve the problem because he could still be triggered by someone else’s watch beep, and you don’t that to happen in a hazardous situation such as near traffic.

Sound bite is that you need to change the meaning of that sound trigger from scary to ooh, cookies and games! But you need to start slow and let the animal be in control of fast it goes. While working on it, could your husband live with haptics and not getting notified of everything immediately at least when at home? The less uncontrolled triggering the better.

Look up systematic desensitization, desensitization and counterconditioning for dogs, and similar. You should also ask your vet for a behaviorist recommendation to help you draw up a specific plan if you haven’t done much training. The web sites I’ve found with a quick search give a decent overview, but not enough details to be a full plan for your circumstance.

The good part is you know what the trigger is, and you can control it pretty easily. It’s much harder to deal with fear of nebulous weather conditions or jets overhead.

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Sorry to say with the Apple Watch it’s either the default sound or no sound. The only other thing you can control is the alert volume.

If the phone is always with your husband when he is with the dog, other than the desensitization listed already, the only other thing I can think of is to turn off notifications on the watch for all apps and let them sound on the phone instead.

It’s too bad there isn’t a way to set notifications for the phone when you set a particular focus mode and for the watch when you turn off that focus, so your husband could set a “I’m with the dog” focus mode. But focus can’t do that.

Has your husband tried turning the alert volume down in the Watch app, Settings & Haptics? If not, is there a volume level that doesn’t trigger the dog but is still something your husband hears?

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