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dog scared of everything after storm

July 13th, 2005, 12:05 PM
my friend has a small white dog..I believe she is a Bichon Frise...or mix .... this sweet dog was very friendly and outgoing until she experienced her first thunder storm. Now she is afraid of all kinds of noises and is generally a pretty nervous nelly.

Does anyone have any advice about how to help this dog get over her fright?

thanks! :ca:

July 13th, 2005, 12:28 PM
My dog is the same and for her it was firecrackers.

But what u can do is get a tape recording/ cd of a thunderstorm. She can be desensitized by using the recording. Put it on VERY low so almost not to hear it and do some play / obedience training with her for about 15 mins while this plays in the background. NEVER console her or scold her...just play and make like happy happy!

Do this every week a couple time a week then build up to doing it every other day. Each week increase the volume just a LITTLE bit.

It takes time and patience but it may help reduce her fears or eliminate them all together.

Best of luck.

July 13th, 2005, 12:39 PM
Good idea my boys were scared last night aswell, Blaze slept on my pillow :p good thing he is not too large ;) Jordie was underbed but came pretty fast with some loud thunder.

July 13th, 2005, 12:49 PM
You can try all you like but the dog will probably always be sensitive, it is very difficult to overcome this phobia.

The only sure way to avoid this problem is to expose the pup to noise betwen 3-6 wks of age. If you haven't done it by then there is a high likelihood of problems.

July 13th, 2005, 12:55 PM
True but through careful and slow desensitization the dog becomes aware it's nothing to be afriad of. It may not cure but it can sure help reduce anxiety.

Like I said it has to be very very slowly done and best of luck!! Sometimes it just takes one thing to trigger this off.

My dog was pretty much okay until a very very large firecracker situation this May.

Dog Dancer
July 13th, 2005, 01:16 PM
Funny how all the dogs are different. My last dog was terrified of thunder so we were lucky we live in the West and don't get many storms. Currently my two could care less. In fact we had a whopper of a storm a few weeks ago and the younger dog Halo wanted to go out and check out the noise! They don't bark or make any fuss about it, just want to check it out. She wasn't too keen on staying out when she realized it was pouring rain too! :) My older dog Shadow has to be watched during firecracker season as if she see's them shooting off she wants to run over and check them out :eek: I agree with Luba though that playing a tape and working around it would probably help alot! May not eliminate the fear, but should help.

July 13th, 2005, 01:16 PM
I participated in a recent thread on the topic, and you may wish to check it out. I have a dog that is so nervous, that sedation is the only answer for her some times. You have a lot of work ahead with desensitization, but it does work. Every spring, however, I have to begin the process all over again :rolleyes:

See the thread:

Fido, fireworks not a good mix

July 13th, 2005, 01:57 PM
I believe there are two types of fear when it comes to thunder and loud noises. One they are born with, and I have never been able to fix that one. The other is brought on by one incident. If a doggy can be really distracted from it, I don't think it's innate. Try distracting me from a spider. :eek:

My old dobie was horrified of the thunder. He's lock himself in a bathroom and stay there for hours. He shook so hard. Nothing could get him to come out of the bathroom. Nothing. I guess this, like everything else with doggies, depends on the doggy.

July 13th, 2005, 02:13 PM
Yes sure does depend on the doggie, but it is worth a try... :D

July 13th, 2005, 02:16 PM
Well, of course. I'm just saying it might not work so the OP doesn't beat herself up if she can't get the doggy to be ok in storms... :)

July 13th, 2005, 02:52 PM
I have to design doggie earplugs

I'd make a fortune

July 13th, 2005, 02:56 PM
I believe there are two types of fear when it comes to thunder and loud noises.

Dogs have a "direct wire" from the ear to a primitive part of the brain that naturally triggers a startle response ( the kind of thing that makes you jump when you hear a noise or someone goes BOO to you). That is what they are born with. Without proper socialization - introduction to loud noises when the dog has no ability to feel fear/anxiety (3-6 wks old), dogs are highly susceptible to the phobia from loud noises. And because of the direct wire it is extremely difficult to undo, unlike other negative stimuli). The only other way to prepare a dog is to introduce it to noise at a distance with something great going on for the dog and bring it closer bit by bit while the dog is distracted. With the handler also ignoring the noise. Like the type of thing that has been recommended here as a repair to the problem. Unfortunately it is a LOT more work after the fact.

The degree of the startle response is partly genetic, i.e. some hunting lines are know to be easy to train to guns/noises. Once trained most hunting dogs get totally fired up when they see the gun come out (conditioned response - YAY, We're going to the field to find birds) and hear gunfire (yay!, now I get to retrieve a bird - if the stupid human didn't miss again). Most hunters, are very careful to keep their dogs away from fireworks however. It is an overload that takes training for a dog to handle, the kind of training traditional war dogs would get.

Genearrly though, thunder phobia = screwed up socialization and nothing else. And the reaction to the drop in pressure is a conditioned response that triggers the anxiety.

Who ever heard of a wolf or coyote terrified of the weather?

July 13th, 2005, 05:09 PM
Genearrly though, thunder phobia = screwed up socialization and nothing else.

My opinion is not the same as what you wrote here, only because it does not apply to Blaze. He was born in a barn with hundreds of dogs, I'm sure he heard lots of loud sounds.
Came to me at 8 weeks socialization was never a issue with us, he meet many people and other dogs still does never was scared of anything or anyone. Last nights thunder storm is the first time I saw this dog scared of anything, might sound weird but it's the thruth. I was shocked but maybe it was because he could see how upset Jordie was, Jordie has always been scared of everything the moves or makes a sound.

July 13th, 2005, 05:14 PM
Who ever heard of a wolf or coyote terrified of the weather?

Actually, my coyote was terrified of thunder! :p I understand what you're saying - she wasn't raised by coyotes so she never learned to not be afraid and since I didn't know any better, I also tried to comfort her. Now I know that I was actually praising her for being fearful. I think that is where people really go wrong and don't even know it. A human's instinct is to tell them "it's alright, don't worry" when the dog is scared but the dog is hearing "good boy for being afraid" and will continue the behavior.

Fear is a response that will have to be unlearned and I agree with the others that you could try the desensitizing. Good Luck!

July 13th, 2005, 05:40 PM
He was born in a barn with hundreds of dogs,

With that many dogs around I would bet the dog did not get active introduction to load noises like banging pots near him (not too near). You sometimes have only a 1 week window to dothis after the ears open. No second chance.

It doesn't sound odd to me at all that the one dog taught the other.

A properly socialized dog is not removed from the litter until it is 12 weeks old.

July 13th, 2005, 06:37 PM
Also certain breeds are more sensitive over all and are genetically wired to hear higher pitches or lower pitches - contributing to the sensitivity to thunder or loud noises.
Typically Coyotes or Wolves would go to the den (an insulated haven) to get out of the storm and would not be as affected. Thats why some dogs will jump into the car (if they can) to insulate themselves - or go into an interior room - ie bathroom- that has greater insulation from the sounds & vibrations.

July 13th, 2005, 06:52 PM
Sounds a lot like my parents dog/my later childhood dog. She's a belgian sheepdog (read: black wolf) and at the mere mention of a storm, she can be found hiding in a pile of clothes in the soundproof, windowless, laundry room in the basement. And she will not come out until she is CERTAIN the storm is over. I don't think anything could distract her, not even the most peanut-buttery kong in the world.

July 26th, 2005, 03:52 PM
I was going to start a new thread about this but found this one first!

My dog is terrified of thunderstorms since the fireworks on Canada Day! She was never afraid of storms or noises before that but now EVERY loud noise makes her come running to me with her ears back and her tail tucked in and trying to jump in my lap! With a 62lb lab it's a little tough!! ;)

I'm gonna try your idea Luba and record a storm ... it should be the one going on now because it is LOUD!!

Jersey is currently hiding under my computer desk shaking away. Poor thing ... and it sure makes taking them out for a pee a challenge! Now I try to time it and beat the storm.

Someone really needs to invent some doggie earplugs! Or maybe a big doggie hat for over the ears! ;)