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Thunderstorm phobia in dog

ScottieDog
July 23rd, 2009, 12:05 PM
I just wanted to see if I am handling this situation correctly. In December we brought a 2 1/2 year-old Scottie into our family. She is a love. In her previous home, she was primarily an outside dog and kept in a kennel but had contact with people and other animals. She lived on a farm. The family who had her, wanted her to be an inside dog and have more human contact than they could provide for her. She was never mistreated at her first home; her original family just wanted her to have a better life and felt we could give this. She is now and indoor dog who sleeps in the people bed and snuggles on the couch. She is very smart.

Over the past few months we have had some thunderstorms and it is obvious that my little dog has issues with the noise. Last night took the cake. We had several hours of non-stop thunder and torrential rains (5-6 inches in 2-3 hours). During storms, my dog will shake, run to my side, but not want to be held, or try to hide. Her downstairs hiding place is a shelf on an occasional table or tucked into her toybox. Her upstairs hiding place--her preferred spot--is in a corner where two pieces of furniture are near the walls. When I see her acting fearful and know a storm is coming I try to carry on with my normal activities. Each clap of thunder brings shaking from her. Last night was even worse. She began hyper-salivating to the point that the floor around her and her face was soaked. I know that I should not try to hold her and coddle her as this reinforces the fear. Last night, I let her bolt to her safe upstairs spot and stayed in the room with her reading with the TV turned up.

My older dog never liked storms and would bark throughout. He wasn't afraid, but instead acted like he wanted to "get" the storm. He is now deaf, so he ignores the storms, so my new dog is not getting any negative responses from him.

She also reacts to gunshots and fireworks. I will discuss this with my trainer, but wanted to see if anyone had advise. I am willing to consider a safe calming supplement, but would prefer to not medicate. Also, due to some allergy issues aromatherapy isn't a good choice for us.

So far, I have been home during the worst storms. When I am not home, she is placed in a safe room, but I am concerned for her behavior should a storm happen. I do not want to crate her during the storms, since I want her to see the crate in a positive light. I do leave the crate open so she can enter if she chooses, but she seems to have selected her preferred safe spots. Am I handling this correctly. My dog is not destructive to the environment, nor does she try to injure herself.
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Added: Darn it. We are having another storm and she is hunkered in her corner again. I forgot to mention that this morning she had very loose stool (not like her) and I think it was from the stress of the storm.

Helene4
July 23rd, 2009, 03:57 PM
I also have the same problem with my dog Mickey. He is now 13 years old and nearly completely deaf so thunderstorms and fireworks don't bother him as much these days. But when he could still hear, he would shake, drool and want us to pick him up and hold him. He is a 33 pound dog so we rarely pick him up! We ignored him, going about our business as usual but he would always freak out during a storm.

When we got our second dog Arielle 5 years ago, she wasn't scared at all but she gradually became frightened of thunder because of Mickey. She saw him panic so she would also start shaking and wanting to be very close to us. We have thunderstorms often during the night and all of a sudden we had Mickey and Arielle (she weighs 55 pounds) between our pillows shaking and drooling like crazy!!! Not fun at all :yell:

I use Dr Bach's Rescue Remedy. It's a homeopathic solution made with flower essences. I've witnessed on several occasions it's effect on my dogs. If Arielle is shaking during a storm, I give her a few drops and she stops shaking IMMEDIATELY and usually lays down calmly on her blanket. Before his deafness, Mickey would still shake a little after getting his drops but he stopped scratching us to pick him up. He would then go in another room to lay down and wait it out. He really wasn't in his panic state. I also gave them Rescue Remedy before leaving for work if the weather report predicted thunder. When I'm at work, the dogs are outside in their pen. Does Rescue Remedy given in the morning have an effect on thunder in the afternoon? I just don't know. :shrug:

Thankfully, this year hasn't been too bad. We had thunder a few times: didn't bother Mickey at all (probably because of his deafness) and it hardly bothered Arielle (probably because Mickey was calm!). If the need arises, I would give them Rescue Remedy. I know some people don't get results with it but in my case, it works. It's also recommended for other stressful events (vet visits, etc.). It's worth a try. You can get it in health food stores and some supermarkets.
Good luck!:)

ScottieDog
July 23rd, 2009, 04:32 PM
Thanks, I'll check into the Rescue Remedy for her. What worries me is that I've heard this can get worse as they age and she is only 3. Right now the storm is over and she is peacefully sleeping in her corner. I hate that my boy is deaf, but I don't miss the barking at the storms. At his age, I like him to be calm. He slept through everything last night.

My previous little girl dog :rip: was afraid of storms but never hide and drooled. She just wanted on my lap or pressed near my leg. I was told that comforting her was bad. Cassie is just more severe in her reaction. Good luck with your two.

Before Mac went deaf, his one source of comfort (and quite) was the green Booda velvet bone--of course this was discontinued. He only got these bones during a storm.

Dee-O-Gee
July 23rd, 2009, 09:08 PM
I've heard of this but have never had to use it. It's worth a shot! :shrug:

http://www.ehow.com/how_5151801_soothe-dog-during-storm.html

ScottieDog
July 23rd, 2009, 11:36 PM
Well, that link was interesting. Fabric softener sheets.... This is something I have and would not cause her harm, so it is worth a try.

I have a tip along the same lines: It sounds strange, but fabric softener sheets can be used to repel mosquitoes. Rub the sheet over exposed skin and your clothing then put the sheet in a shirt pocket or pin to your shirt. This actually works.

ScottieDog
July 24th, 2009, 03:34 PM
Update: Right at bedtime another storm rolled through (4th thunderstorm in a little over 24 hours :eek:) I knew the storm was coming when Cass started to bolt to her hiding space. I checked radar and we had two waves of storms coming. I grabbed a dryer sheet. The first storm wasn't very bad, but enough to cause her fear. I placed Cassie on the couch next to me and began stroking her with the fabric sheet. I kept doing this and we both fell asleep. I woke up with her front paws on my leg and her chin on my knee. She was sleeping calmly. The second storm had more punch and she did hunker down in her safe spot in the bedroom, but the shaking and drooling wasn't as severe. I will still check on the rescue remedy as well, but wanted to update on the fabric softener sheet.

I wasn't trying to hold and cuddle her while she was on the couch, just casually stroke her with the sheet. She typically sits next to me on the couch in the evenings. I was pleased that she was calm enough to fall asleep next to me with the thunder in the distance.

diandpat
July 24th, 2009, 03:46 PM
Well, that link was interesting. Fabric softener sheets.... This is something I have and would not cause her harm, so it is worth a try.

I have a tip along the same lines: It sounds strange, but fabric softener sheets can be used to repel mosquitoes. Rub the sheet over exposed skin and your clothing then put the sheet in a shirt pocket or pin to your shirt. This actually works.

I had also hear of the fabric softener sheets but then someone on this board said that they were toxic :shrug: Haven't found anything one way or the other. Because some dogs react as a result of static in the air, perhaps a tight tshirt would be safer and have the same positive result as the softener sheet without the possible ill effects. There is also something called the Twrap which is based on the same principle.

My dogs do not react at all to storms so I have no personal experience but I wish you luck :goodvibes:

Dracko
July 24th, 2009, 06:40 PM
I have to say I have empathy for people who's dogs are afraid of storms. I know of 3 dogs who are like that. The one is a shepherd who lives on an acreage and is an outdoor dog. They do bring her in if it storms but at times they aren't home. The dog has literally jumped through the glass windows to get in the house!!! A few of them over time. :eek: One Thanksgiving I was at their place and saw 2 windows boarded up. I thought it was from a storm or maybe their son threw a ball through them. When they said it was Shadow who broke through them I couldn't believe it!!! Otherwise this dog is the sweetest, most gentle dog you can find.

The other 2 are retrievers and just shake like crazy and get so scared you can't console them. :sad:

I am so fortunate that Dracko (my GSD) doesn't react to storms at all except once in a while if he's sleeping and there is a LOUD clap of thunder he'll lift his head for a second.

Good luck to everyone who has this issue to deal with.

TeriM
July 24th, 2009, 06:48 PM
A few excellent blog posts on the subject from Patricia McConnell (Other End of the Leash) for you to look at :thumbs up.

http://www.theotherendoftheleash.com/category/thunder-phobia-in-dogs/

ScottieDog
July 24th, 2009, 11:30 PM
Teri, thank you for the link--so much good info here. I want to read many of her topics. I will proceed with caution with the dryer sheets and do some research. I'll also hunt for a small, snug T-shirt. Based on what I was reading in the link, I may try to get a special toy (Kong-style) and bait it with peanut butter and give that to her to occupy her during a storm. I am glad to know that just simply stroking her when she is frightened isn't going to "ruin" her like I've heard so many people say. Just the fact that she wasn't so freaked out last night during the lesser intense storm makes me feel we can work through this with time and patience. Cassie and I thank you all.

luckypenny
July 25th, 2009, 12:13 AM
What worries me is that I've heard this can get worse as they age and she is only 3.

We've had or Ava for almost 2 years now...she's approximately 6-7 years old. Her reactions to thunderstorms have actually gotten less severe over time. We found that letting her into bed with us (if the storm happens at night) and wrapping the comforter around her...helps her relax almost instantly. During the day, she prefers to lay in our closet. I wrap a blankie around her and she's calms down.

Based on what I was reading in the link, I may try to get a special toy (Kong-style) and bait it with peanut butter and give that to her to occupy her during a storm.

If she doesn't go for it the first few times, don't worry, eventually she will. We use the same approach as if treating separation anxiety. Once the storm is over, remove the Kong immediately. She'll learn that stuffed Kongs are special treats during stormy weather only and take to it more quickly.

I am glad to know that just simply stroking her when she is frightened isn't going to "ruin" her like I've heard so many people say.

Nah, if anything, it will reassure her as long as you remain calm and upbeat.

:fingerscr Cassie continues to improve :goodvibes:.