- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


thunderstorm season!! and dogs

March 29th, 2005, 07:21 PM
It is soon that time of year when I must work with my Pyr, Rosie, to help acclimatize her to thunderstorms. I have done much behaviour modification and have had to use valium on occasion to aid her. She freaks out on the far end of the scale, so much so that we worry for her safety when a storm is coming. Heaven forbid we are not home when a storm is coming. She gets this "aura" about 2-3 hours before a storm, so we can begin to do what it is we do to get her thru safely and securely. It is just awful for her (and my husband! :( )

Rosie will break thru any window or door, shatter glass, break her teeth chewing to get out, destroy drapes, screens, door jams, you name it. I have had neighbours call animal control to get her off of my second story sunporch roof after she smashed thru the glass and screen of the 2nd floor bedroom window to try to run away from the storm. She panicks and feels she needs to RUN!!!! Luckily, the other neighbour broke into my house and pulled her back in before she jumped! :eek:

I have found that brushing her with a metal pin brush seems to make her feel better, as the metal pulls the electricity and static out of her system. She does seem more relaxed, however, this is just a theory of some folks, but I will try anything. Have used Clomicalm, with minimal effects; desensitizing thunderstorm cds and have actually had it where I can walk her in a storm with not too much apprehension on her part. It took an entire season of storms to get to this point, and, alas, a new season is upon us and I have to start from square one :o . I have read scads of info on the subject and tried a multitude of things, most with pretty good results.

I was wondering if anyone had heard of the StormDefender coat. You can read about it at It works the same way as the pin brush, by pulling out the static from the dog. I also heard that putting your dog in your car works the same way, but we haven't tried this one yet :rolleyes: If anyone has used or could recommend this product, I might be willing to buy it. It is costly, only available in the USA, so I am hesitant to buy it if it is just a gimmick. Can it be purchased in Canada??

March 29th, 2005, 09:50 PM
I had dogs who were afraid, but not that afraid. How terrible for her and you.

The only thing I can think of is to start with the thunderstorm cds (and stuffed kongs) now. Maybe even play them during the winter for her, to keep her in "practice".

When I first moved to Montreal, I had a semi-basement apartment and I noticed that Callie was not as bad there as in the house before. I think being underground (at least partially) helped to muffle or change the tone of the thunder.

Hopefully it will be a quiet season this year for Rosie

March 29th, 2005, 09:52 PM
When I was young, our fox terrier was really afraid of thunder and lightening. No-one in the family was - certainly not me! I would go to the nearest window to watch. However, I would take the whimpering dog and hug her and pet her thinking I was helping in. In fact, I was just reinforcing that behaviour and it took me a few yrs to realize that. They need to know it is OK NOT to be scared in a storm.

March 29th, 2005, 10:04 PM
Wow, that's one wound up dog. I've never seen one that reactive. I don't know how valid the electric charge theory is. Hard to say. You might want to read up on techniques used for gun shyness. It may give you some other insights. Try under the advice, tips section.

Sadie's Mom
March 30th, 2005, 12:51 AM
Wow Lezzer, that must be hard to deal with. I'm sorry that there is nothing I can think of to help you out. I have friends who have a shih tzu who gets extremely nervous during storms, she pants heavily and her breath smells worse than usual. I can't imagine how much worse it must be with a dog that is ten times that size.

But I do have a question, is there any way to help prevent this behaviour before it starts? This will be Sadie's first summer as an adult dog. We get some wicked storms out here on occassion. Should I get a CD and play it beforehand? Or just see how she reacts when a storm hits? (SORRY to hijack!)

March 30th, 2005, 06:54 AM
Thanks DB7. I will check into the gunshy dog stuff. Sounds interesting. And Sadie's Mom, I would just watch and see if your dog is reactive to storms at all. I have 2 others who could care less about the weather. You might want to try to get a storm sounds cd from your library and see if Sadie reacts to it before the rains come, but I found that it has nothing to do with the noise of thunder, rather, the electricity from the lightning. The cds had no impact on her whatsoever......just like playing any other cd. I started playing them at a low volume and eventually cranked it over the course of a week or so, and she pretty much just slept thru it. But when a real storm was coming, BAM!!! she would go balistic! Hmmmm.....

March 30th, 2005, 09:53 AM
Here is an excerpt of a discussion about gun-shyness combined with Thunderstorm fear between a couple of professional breeders and hunting dog trainers. Looks like a pretty complicated issue with no certain answer.

"Whacha call this? We got a puppy and she was assimilated into the family, trained, etc. Pointed, retrieved, loved the water, no problem. About 10 months into this puppy, she became fearful of the thunder & lightening storms we had in Texas. She would hide under the bed or sit with us and just shake. Well, as time went on, she eventually began running the other way when we had a shotgun. So we gave her to a pet home in the city around the time she was 12 months old. She was returned about 8 months later. Started walking her in the field w/ the other dogs, shooting the cap pistol, and progressing to the shotgun. No problems this time. She�s now at her forever after home and enjoys dove hunting. Genetic? Learned? Unlearned? Didn't feel like hunting? Changed her mind given the alternative? Smart? Dumb? Hmm."

and response.

......."Gee I don't know , I guess I'd call it a not uncommon reaction to thunderstorms.

Moose (the original) was 20 months old when I rescued him from the hell hole he was in at Klein's puppy mill in Dallas. He'd never been out of a four by four foot pen in his life inside of a tin barn that was knee deep in urine and feces.

He never pointed a planted bird at all, but would retrieve anything I threw for him. I started training him on planted birds as soon as I Got him home to no avial, he just wouldn't point them. I however took him out in the field and he pointed and held the first wild quail he smelled, I flushed and killed it and that was history. He ended up with at least 15-20,000 or more wild birds killed over him in his lifetime, and the sound of the gun in the field always excited him, however if he was in the house, and I walked out back to kill a skunk he'd quivver, and he would cower under the bed in a thunderstorm.

Genetics, training/conditioning? Maybe just two cases of good mental stability overcoming fears... Hmm I dunno.... I certainly had no problem guaranteeing the mental stability, trainability, hunting ability nor retrieve in his pups. I do however always put the condition that I'm not responsible for handler/training errors.CR"

March 30th, 2005, 10:53 AM
The car thing makes sense to me, as the four rubber tires make it the safest place to be in a storm.

March 30th, 2005, 03:27 PM
Not to hijack the thread and I have no time to explain (relativesm busy day, mtgs, et al) - but the car being a safe place during a storm is a HUGE myth!! So not true! One of the most dangerous!!

March 30th, 2005, 03:45 PM
Not to hijack the thread and I have no time to explain (relativesm busy day, mtgs, et al) - but the car being a safe place during a storm is a HUGE myth!! So not true! One of the most dangerous!!Please explain when you have time!!
I always thought this was true... I remember one time when we were camping on Assateague island and there was a huge storm, everyone was told to go to their cars until it passed because it was the safest place to be (although maybe just safer than a tent or camper)

March 30th, 2005, 08:42 PM
My ex's car got struck by lightning near Thunder Bay (lol), the electronics were ok and the passengers didn't get hurt. I still don't think cars are safe in thunderstorms.

(aside-- A girl in my high school was camping in her back yard as a kid and lightning hit the tree across the yard, travelled through the roots and hit her in the EYE. She had to have eye surgery (cataracts, I think) at 13!!!)

Personally, I have the first doggies I have ever had who don't care about lightning. My old dobie used to go in the bathroom and shut the door...

March 30th, 2005, 09:39 PM
PLEASE let me know what it is. My ex mother in law has a collie/rott mix. She does the EXACT same thing. She has broken windows in the front of the house, luckily they have a one story, she has chewed through the door frame trying to get out, ripped down curtains, everything. And just as you said, God forbid if they are not home when it happens! Once they came home to 2 broken windows, the tv was knocked over and busted, she had a glass case she kept some collectable Angels in.. broken everywhere, the list goes on and on. So please please if you find the answer, let me know! They too have tried SOOOOO many things but nothing seems to help. The car thing.. yeah.. it scared the living hell out of her! She was going crazy trying to bust out of her crate in the back of the van. They even tried letting her out and she ripped up the carpetting in the van. It's just awful. They have had her for nearly 12 yrs now, and she's a big ole teddy bear who loves to play as much as she can take, but when a storm comes, GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!!

March 31st, 2005, 06:12 AM
I have a JRT who is afraid of thunder storms. She always warns us if one is around a few hours b4 it happens. She isn't as bad as yours, but does hyperventerlate and throws up sometimes. I usually sit with her (and wear her) until the storm has past. She also likes being in the basement. I haven't tried the metal pin thing, but just might give that a go next time a thunderstorm rolls around - which could be today :sad:


March 31st, 2005, 07:52 AM
That's weird. When I was a child, the safety people that came to you school and teach you things like what to do if there is a fallen power line, etc, they were the ones that told us the car is the safest place in a thunder storm.

March 31st, 2005, 08:09 AM
ave you tried to tell a dog that the safest place is in a car???? Somehow I don't think she would listen :p As far as she is concerned the safest place is right behind Mum's legs - or up her sweater :crazy:

March 31st, 2005, 08:33 AM
We are due for a storm today and as luck would have it, my husband is home sick, (lucky for the dog, not for my hubby!). He knows the drill when she starts losing it: get out the metal brush and give her a good brushing. From all of the literature I have read, you are doing your dog no favours by mollycoddling it during a storm, as this just re-enforces the fear. We choose to pretty much go about our business and ignore her during the storm, which is next to impossible. We don't react to loud thunder and all of the racket associated with storms, as this is supposed to show the dog that it's just part of life and nothing to get upset about. It is hard to watch your pet lose their minds every time there is a storm, and we have had to use valium to calm her for her own safety. I take it no one has heard of the "Storm Defender" cape that I originally asked about? I have sent the company an email explaining my situation and there is a full money back guarantee, so I may just bite the bullet and purchase one and I will let you all in on how well it works, or doesn't :p

March 31st, 2005, 09:09 AM
I just had a brainstorm.....I read an article on the web about the Storm Defender cape and all it is basically is a doggy coat made of fabric with aluminum threads woven into it. I have already phoned one fabric store to see if they carry any fabric with these threads, but it was a no go. I figure I could easily whip up a coat for my dog, as I can sew an easy project like that. I was wondering what the metalic threads are that you find in some fabrics: is it aluminum? or some other type of shiny stuff? I was thinking I could simply take a very thin sheet of aluminum and sandwich it between 2 pieces of fabric and make her a storm coat. I could then put the metal collander on her head for added protection....this way she will be safe from aliens at the same time :p

March 31st, 2005, 09:42 AM
Well, this just gets better! I just found a site that actually manufactures aluminum fabric for blinds etc. in B.C., and I called the 1-800 # and the lady offered me a sample! It is in the mail! I will be producing my coat as soon as this fabric swatch arrives. If you are interested TWilson9498, and if I find that the swatch is more than I need, I could ship the remainder to you or attempt to make you a coat and send it. I will let you know if I recieve a huge piece and you can decide if you would like to try the fabric. I asked for 1'X2' piece, but who knows what she will send.

The other alternative is to wait and see if the coat actually works on Rosie and then you can decide it you would like to participate in my raincoat study :p and I will keep you all abreast of the results! :thumbs up

March 31st, 2005, 10:05 AM
Here's an article on melatonin, a natural occurring substance, and dogs. I don't think it's available in Canada but you can buy it over the counter in the States, or by mail order. Don't be put off by the reference to epilepsy. It has also been used specifically for dogs who freak out during thunderstorms.

March 31st, 2005, 10:16 AM
Maybe this is how the tinfoil hat favoured by paranoids originated :D

We can now call the fear of thunder and lightning as tinfoily. As in "My dog is very tinfoily when it storms."

March 31st, 2005, 10:38 AM
....and when the storm passes and the dogs are okay, we can say, "HaHA! Foiled again!"