- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Need serious help with a scared dog

June 9th, 2011, 05:29 PM
My Duke has always been scared of storms and fireworks but it's getting worse. The last storm we had he literally pooped himself and urinated. His heart was going a mile a minute with heavy panting for altleast 4 hrs. We called the vet but he said there really isn't much we can do for him. We let him hide where ever he wants to make him feel more comfortable. We are really beginning to worry about his health. He is now scared everytime he hears a door close outside or a noisy car. I was thinking of trying rescue remedy but would it be ok to use it when he is also taking synthroid ? I am in desperate need of help. Last week we were also told that he has cataracts but I don't think it makes a difference because he has always been scared but it's getting worse.

June 9th, 2011, 05:37 PM
They can put him on medication. I don't know why your vet would tell you there is nothing they can do. Our oldest boy, Thorin, is very fearful of storms and quite neurotic over little things like the noise of a plastic bag. He doesn't seem to be as bad as your poor guy, though. One of our vets reccomended we put him on anti-anxiety medication and use valium if there is a bad storm. We haven't put him on anything because he has actually seemed to mellow out a lot as he has gotten older. But there is help available. I don't know much about Rescue Remedy, but if you're concerned, talk to your vet. If there is a holistic vet in your area, that would be a great place to start. We have been seeing one for a few months now and he has done wonders for both of our boys. Good luck :)

June 9th, 2011, 05:39 PM
So far we haven't had much luck with this, either. :frustrated: Recently, though, a lot of people I know have been trying Thundershirts on their dogs with a pretty good success rate--enough so that I'm seriously considering trying one for our thunderphobic Cole and Cass. Might be worth a try...

June 9th, 2011, 05:47 PM
I will speak to our vet again. We even tried a behavoirist but he said he didn't want to continue because it was not working and stressing him out even more. He is approximately 9 yrs. old so i know it's not going to get better. We had a storm the other morning at 3 am and he tried to hide behind our toilet and our computer which he broke off the plug for our keyboard. He always wants to go outside during a storm but we won't let him out.

June 9th, 2011, 05:49 PM
Recently, though, a lot of people I know have been trying Thundershirts on their dogs with a pretty good success rate--enough so that I'm seriously considering trying one for our thunderphobic Cole and Cass. Might be worth a try...

We tried the thunder shirt but it didn't work for him.

June 9th, 2011, 06:04 PM
I think with yours actually peeing and pooping, that's pretty bad. Normally I wouldn't even consider medicating them, but like our vet said, if he (Thorin) gets that scared it's almost cruel not to do something for him. Again, fortunately, he was never "that" bad and did mellow as he got older.

June 9th, 2011, 06:06 PM
We tried the thunder shirt but it didn't work for him.

Just a question about your use of the thundershirt...does it fit him tightly? if not you will need a smaller size, it should fit snug. The Thundershirt works for so many dogs but of course there always has to be one who it won't work with.

Check with your vet about Rescue Remedy..what I know about it though is that it is not medicinal, it is a flower Essence designed/made by Dr. Bach in the 1930's.

There are also collars that you might try they are DAP Collars they may help. Good luck and since it is TS season I hope that you find something quickly to ease Duke's anxiety.

THIS TIP IS FOR YOU TOO HAZEL...or anyone who has anxious animals. The following technique will help to keep your dogs from going into shock.

One more thing you might try is some Tellington TTouch on his ears. Do small circles on his ears from tip to base, the circles should start at 6:00 on a dial and go around 1 and 1/4...start at 6 end at 9. Take the ear between your fingers and gently slide down the ear, do hair pulls, gently pull the small hairs behind his ears let them slide between your fingers. If you want any mor info please PM me. patti

June 9th, 2011, 06:12 PM
Thanks, patti! I'll have to try some TTouch on ears next time.

June 9th, 2011, 06:20 PM
The shirt we had fit him very snug but it didn't do anything. We called the vet since he works late and we are waiting for call back because we did have storm warnings out but it seemed to have gotten sunny again and the warnings have been cancelled.

June 10th, 2011, 02:52 PM
What behaviourist did you have!?!?! I can't believe they would walk away.:eek: This problem is not a hard fix, yes it's going to take TIME. You should report him to the association of behaviourists (there are a few groups to which ever one he belongs to), that is unacceptable.
Clicker Training is something you will need to learn - Here is a great video on it . Follow this video to charge the clicker.

What you will NEED:
-SUPER yummy treats, REAL chicken or sausage or something the dog goes CRAZY for.

So what I need you to do is; Play a song (any song, preferably one that has loud guitar or another instrument) on a low volume with your dog in the same room. CLICK and reward when the dog doesn't move. (if the dog is sitting there looking at you or the speakers or anything else and NOT moving to leave the room, click! pause and reward. Repeat on this level of volume 10-20 times.

Increase the volume and repeat.

Increase the volume by 3 notches each day.

What we're trying to do is creating a positive association with loud noises that can drown the storm sounds.

You know how loud a storm can be so bring the volume up to that level or more, make sure you've slowly worked with the dog (clicker training) up to this point. If you just blare the music he will most likely freak out and run.

The doors slamming and loud noises startling him, you need to CONSTANTLY work on this with him.

Counter -conditioning exercises
We need to change the thought process of your dog. Right now he's thinking "noise = scary" . We are going to change it to, "noise = treats!"
Have yummy treats. (and when I say this , please USE very valuable treats, don't use dog treats, they suck).

You're going to sit in the kitchen and touch a cupboard door. Click and reward
You're going to open the cupboard door. Click and reward.
You're going to tap the cupboard door with you finger. Click and reward.
You're going to tap a little louder on the cupboard door. Click and reward.

If he's fine still continue. If he's not repeat those four steps until he is not looking worried.

You're going to close the cupboard door GENTLY. Click and reward.
You're going to open the cupboard door again and close again, a little more normal. Click and reward.

If he's fine still continue. If he's not repeat these two steps until he is not looking worried.

You're going to close the cupboard door at regular speed so it makes a thud noise.
Note: He will probably try to run or look very worried.
You need to act like there is nothing wrong, don't coddle him saying, "it's okay" or anything like that. What I would do, is get excited, "YAY.......what was that?" and if he stayed, "Oh you are such a GOOD BOY!" and give pats on his side (NOT PETS, no slow soothing rubbing) kinda like a pat on the back, job well done.

Repeat that one or two more time at the same noise level. Quit for the day and give him a break.

If at any point in time during the days when you're not working with him and he gets spooked from a noise, you're going to act like, "what cha doin? YAY, holy moly, what was that????" Basically you're acting like a goof to get his playful side to peek.

Try this and please PM me for further instructions if you like. THIS WILL WORK, I've worked with many fearful/timid dogs and within 1 month I've seen tremendous progress if the owner is WILLING To take the time to work with the dog on a daily basis. This is usually up to 1 hour per day of counter conditioning and then 24/7 training for random noises.:dog:

June 10th, 2011, 09:52 PM
The behavourist worked with him for 6 months using the clicker and gave us a cd of different noises and said to play it everyday on low for a little while then gradually turn it up a little at a time but even with the volume on low he was looking for a place to hide. We have a satellite dish and sometimes it will make a certain sound before it goes out that sounds similar to the clicker and he is scared of that too. In May of 2010 was the last time I took him for a walk. Fireworks started 10 days early around here and we happened to be on our walk. I tried everyday for 5 months to take him for a walk but as soon as we get to the end of our sidewalk he drags me back to the door leaving a trail of urine.The vet said we should not put him through that any longer if it's not working. He has seen a big change in Duke and said it's causing him more harm than good. When we take him to the vet he pants so hard that they cannot hear his heart and he never used to do that. He always loved going to the vet but not anymore. He loves going in the truck so we tried to drive to a different area then take him for a walk but that was a no go. He started shaking and wanted right back in the truck. We have an appointment with the vet on Monday. If he can't or won't help us we will go somewhere else.

June 10th, 2011, 10:28 PM
Chloe is my scared pup, don't know if this will help but she would go hide like yours where ever she could, I made her a nice safe spot in out walk in closet with her pillow in it..she would run soonest she heard thunder or seen lighting.

I would sit with her rubbing her head/ears telling her it was ok until the storm had passed, this year I actually see improvement in her, she no longer runs to her safe spot, she stays right next to either me or hubby and just waits out the storm...I can tell she still gets nervous but she is doing much better.

Good luck with yours, I know I felt really bad for her for a long time but it's getting better :thumbs up

June 11th, 2011, 12:03 PM
Was he using counter conditioning exercises with the cd?

Your dog's threshold for fear is extremely low so you'd just have to work quicker (more rewards).

What does he LOVE doing, is there anything that he gets really excited over? Maybe the work WALK or a tennis ball.

I do encourage you to try the counter conditioning exercises, if you stay below his threshold you WILL make progress.

June 11th, 2011, 04:32 PM
I talked to the vet yesterday and I mentioned what Stinkycat said but he wants to see Duke on Monday first to go over some things with me. Then I will do what has been mentioned here.

June 12th, 2011, 04:15 AM
Stinkycat, wonderful advice you gave. I had a very scared cattle dog once and we missed a lot of dog shows I'd entered for if the weather turned stormy, but nowadays I've a number of dogs and it's great. If one seems scared I do the goofball act, acting as if something fun is happening, running around saying "Yay!", clapping my hands, sooling them on if I've a dog that is bold and barks at it, and I turn a radio on fairly loudly just so sudden cracks of thunder aren't so startliing. I do not fuss over the dog that was scared , not unless he starts to relax. I don't think any care about it now, they're probably only wondering why I am acting like a complete nut. LOL.
I wish you luck, Cathy1. It'll be interesting to see how you go.

June 13th, 2011, 01:26 PM
Do not pet or show your dog any love and affection when they are fearful or scared. That will only intensify their fear and in dog language you are sending the message that you agree they should be afraid. When they are afraid, they need you to be a confident pack leader with whom they can trust and gain strength from. When you give affection to that weak state of mind, they just think you are weak as well and it just adds to their anxiety. Most people I think, believe they are comforting their dog and reassuring them, but that is only true for humans, not canines. Becareful to 'distract' with food not 'reward' the fearful behaviour. Good luck.

June 13th, 2011, 02:52 PM
I went to the vet today and he has decided that he would like to work with Duke and me after he closes in the evening. He says he has done this before and that way he can see for himself what Duke is like. He will only medicate as a last resort. I am going to let him and see what happens.

July 1st, 2011, 09:25 PM
The vet has been working with Duke and tonight was fireworks night and he did pant but no hiding.:thumbs up This year instead of the fireworks being on the other side of the city, they were held only 4 blocks away. I'm so happy he wasn't hiding. All day I kept thinking about the fireworks. Tomorrow there might be another test because there is a chance for thunderstorms. I hope not but I can't stop it.

July 1st, 2011, 10:12 PM
That's great progress, Cathy1! :goodvibes: and :fingerscr that he does as well with thunder if it happens tomorrow!