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Thunderstorms
Need quick advice


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#1 enigma

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:15 PM

The rescue pup we have is terrified of thunderstorms.
He use to be left outside all time regardless of the weather and had a muzzle put on him during a thunderstorm so he wouldn't bark.
We have had two storms since we have had him and both times he has been inside and freaking out, pacing up and down, barking and whining.
We make him sit next to us, telling him he is okay, patting him, and trying to calm him down. Have tried the thunder shirt but it doesn't make any difference.
Someone told me to put a blanket over his head??? To make him feel more secure. Haven't tried it yet, but any other suggestions?
The next few days we are meant to have thunderstorms and after last nights effort of being awake at 3.30am sitting with him I would love to be able to help him now instead of another early morning wake up from him.
I am going to get intouch with the rescue and see if they can help out in anyway.


#2 Kay1

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:24 PM

Just a thought but what about a white noise machine? We use one to block out noise at night. If you put him in a room with one (or a radio off tune) and gradually increase the volume so he doesn't hear the thunder?

#3 Paddlepop

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:25 PM

Doggy sedatives from your vet. My staffy was petrified of storms and in the end the only option was to medicate her at the first sign of a storm approaching. It would knock her out a bit and she would sleep. I'm pretty sure it was called clomicalm and was actually Xanax (antidepressant/sedative). It had to be given at least one hour prior to the storm to be effective for the storm.

Another option is a desensitisation CD of storm sounds, and working with an animal behaviourist so that the dog learns that storms are no threat to it.

#4 la di dah

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:25 PM

Stop patting him and telling him its okay, he thinks you're saying "yes, yes it is scary! we're scared too, oh god I guess we're all going to die!" and that, understandably, is not going to calm him down.

Carry on as normal. Do keep him in the house, don't punish him or get angry with him, but don't make a big deal of it and if he's barking and carrying on, tell him no. You do not want to reinforce that storms are terribly frightening but rather that they're nothing really out of the ordinary.

Is he crate trained? I had one dog that couldn't be, but crates can be helpful. If not, see if you can make a nice safe dark burrow like place.

#5 caninestorm

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:28 PM

I think all dogs are different, but this is our procedure for our thunder phobic dog (perfected over the 4 years we've had him):
1. Thundershirt and rescue remedy BEFORE the storm hits. Neither of these work on their own but seem to contribute to the overall reaction.
2. Make his favourite spot available and favourable for him (this is under the computer desk for my boy so we put down a rug and encourage him to go there). Some dogs like the bathroom, or a cupboard, or under the bed, etc.
3. Create some "white noise" to help block out the thunder. Close the doors and windows. Turn on the TV, radio or play some music. We also use a portable fan as it appears to calm him.
4. Encourage calmness... be calm yourself (very important). Talk in reassuring tones, not loud panicky ones and not coddling. Simply "Yes I know you're scared... but you'll be ok" with occasional pats.

Some people will probably try to tell you to ignore him, in my opinion that is not the best way to manage it. You cannot reinforce fear as it is an emotion. You can only work to reduce the fear itself and to be honest a lot of dogs just seem to be born with a fear of these things (my other dog just doesn't care).

Good luck. It's so hard watching them be so scared...

#6 enigma

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:28 PM

Thanks for that. I was thinking that the white noise might work. Will try it tonight. I don't want to give up on this gorgeous boy as then we are passing the problem onto another person. We are only fostering with the view to adopt him.
So it looks like I will have my work cut out for me this week, trying to get it sorted original.gif

#7 caninestorm

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:31 PM

This might sound silly, but the only time my dog actually slept through a (short) storm was when he was under the computer desk when my husband was playing computer games (war/shooting game) and had it turned up really loudly. Simply desensitising him to the noise of thunder wouldn't work for us as it is the storm itself that scares him (couldn't care less about thunder or any other loud noises on TV).

#8 enigma

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:34 PM

Apparently he is crate trained but we don't have one. (Sorry I didn't quote)
I feel bad that by saying he will be okay and patting hm may be giving him the wrong message.
I have heard about the rescue remedy and will look into it before I resort to taking him to the vet.
He is kept inside at night as well. If he wasn't he would be waking the whole neighbourhood up lol
Thank you to everyone's advice. I must seem so dumb asking all these questions. Our other pup sleeps through everything and is so placid and laid back you would think he was a statue lol. So this is all new to us.
If we can get the humping (which is starting to ease) and his fear of thunderstorm sorted out I think we will have a perfect boy lol

#9 caninestorm

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:35 PM

You say he's a pup... if the behaviour isn't too ingrained you could try some desensitisation. If you can catch him before he goes over his threshold (ie. when he still has enough of his brain to pay attention, take treats, etc) you can try to make the storm a fun time - get out his favourite toy, do some simple training with lots of treats, play a game with him. Oh, there's thunder? Well... it's time for a game! Yay!

#10 Unatheowl

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:44 PM

QUOTE (la di dah @ 26/11/2012, 06:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Stop patting him and telling him its okay, he thinks you're saying "yes, yes it is scary! we're scared too, oh god I guess we're all going to die!" and that, understandably, is not going to calm him down.

Carry on as normal. Do keep him in the house, don't punish him or get angry with him, but don't make a big deal of it and if he's barking and carrying on, tell him no. You do not want to reinforce that storms are terribly frightening but rather that they're nothing really out of the ordinary.


This.  It's basically thunderstorm training 101.  Don't reward his fearful behaviour.

This can turn into something that is unmanageable.  I would consult a professional trainier and implement a programme to train him out of it either with or without medication provided by a vet.  I wouldn't try to do it yourself with advice form a forum.

#11 mummy.to.one

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:51 PM

Our dog is scared on storms and runs around the house like crazy barking when there is thunder. The white noise is good, we actually go into our ensuite with the exhaust fan on and it covers the noise, give her a chewy in there to occupy her. Same withi firewOrks.

#12 enigma

Posted 26 November 2012 - 06:02 PM

I should say that whilst I call him a pup he is actually 6yrs old, it's just he acts like one lol
We have just had a storm and so far he is okay. It is tea time and the smell of chicken was a good distraction lol.
It wasn't a bad one this time, so I am not sure if it was because we got to him before it really started or if the smell of chicken helped out....stuff though cooking chicken at 3.30am in the morning lol

#13 Feral*Spikey*

Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:47 PM

Ugh, I had a post and it got 'eaten'.

Anyhoo...

First things first, if he's crate trained, he will love being able to retreat to his crate during thunderstorms and when he just wants to chill. You can make a lovely soft cover for the wire crates, which makes it all cosy and den-like. My 3 dogs love their crates, and its their favourite place to be during a storm. They can curl up, and ignore everything. We don't get 3:00am wake-ups from the dogs, even when it goes off overhead. Crates are the bomb.

So get a crate if you can - there are cheaper crates around, some of the other ladies might point you in that direction.

Second, no patting during the thunderstorm. What you need to do is to implement 'business as usual'. Ignore the behaviour that is fearful, and acknowledge confident behaviour. You can also provide your dog with a distraction, by spending 5-10 minutes running through his training (with treats involved), and you can reward that with lots of praise and pats.

Third thing, avoid drugging the dog if you can. Given positive behaviour reinforcement a chance to work before stepping up the ante.

Final thing. I don't recommend you give any animal Rescue Remedy. First up, its a homeopathic remedy, so it relies on 'water memory' to be effective. Actually, scientific studies show that it is effective because people expect it to work - the placebo effect. Dogs don't understand placebos, so its wasted on them. In addition, some of the bases used for RR can potentially be harmful to dogs. Its not a regulated industry, and APVMA have not registered any of the RRs for use in pets. In other words, its not likely to be useful, but there is a chance of harm.

Read this, and this, before offering your pet RR.

The key bit is:

QUOTE
Effectiveness
In a 2002 database review of randomized trials Edzard Ernst concluded:

The hypothesis that flower remedies are associated with effects beyond a placebo response is not supported by data from rigorous clinical trials.[4]

All randomized double-blind studies, whether finding for or against the remedies, have suffered from small cohort sizes but the studies using the best methodology were the ones that found no effect over placebo.[13][14] The most likely means of action for flower remedies is as placebos, enhanced by introspection on the patient's emotional state, or simply being listened to by the practitioner. The act of selecting and taking a remedy may act as a calming ritual.[4]
A systematic review in 2009 concluded:

Most of the available evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of BFRs has a high risk of bias. We conclude that, based on the reported adverse events in these six trials, BFRs are probably safe. Few controlled prospective trials of BFRs for psychological problems and pain exist. Our analysis of the four controlled trials of BFRs for examination anxiety and ADHD indicates that there is no evidence of benefit compared with a placebo intervention.[3]

A newer systematic review published in 2010 by Ernst concluded

All placebo-controlled trials failed to demonstrate efficacy. It is concluded that the most reliable clinical trials do not show any differences between flower remedies and placebos.[15]


Hope this is of some use (and where are our pictures - you cannot post about a rescue dog and not post pictures!!!!!)

#14 enigma

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:27 PM

Thank you spikey original.gif
I have posted a couple of photos of my two dogs in the other post, but I will put them here as well wink.gif anything to show of my boys lol
This is bailey original.gif he is s sook lol. But he is currently sitting next to my partner chilling out and not fussed about that stupid thunderstorm. Lol


And this is my baby boy Oscar original.gif this photo was taken last year when he had his first hair cut.

Edited by enigma, 26 November 2012 - 08:28 PM.


#15 Feral*Spikey*

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:29 PM

They're gorgeous!

Thunderstorms are a stupid idea. All that noise, and not enough rain on my fruit trees.

#16 enigma

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:31 PM

Sorry I should have added. He is crate trained, so I will see about getting a crate for him.
With the crate is this what we would use if we will be out during the day and we leave him inside?

#17 enigma

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:33 PM

Yes I think they are gorgeous boys original.gif Oscar is a spoilt brat lol. Little bit worried about having a dog trainer coming in and seeing what we let him gt away with.....think we will be chastised for it oh dear!!!!
We are in for more thunderstorms on Thursday so by the end of the week bailey will be so nonplussed about them and will sleep through them hahahaa

#18 Feral*Spikey*

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:35 PM

Yes, I believe a few of the other ladies crate their dogs indoors while they're out. They might pop in and offer some further advice.

I don't crate them when I'm out - but I live on a 1 acre block, and my dogs have a very secure 10m x 5m run, with a shed and kennel in the shed, so its not necessary.

#19 MrsLexiK

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:44 PM

My dog is a total scardie in storms and thunder and with one of those automatic air wick spray things (we had one last Christmas and New Years where there was both fireworks and storms and I think he associates the "swoosh" sound with thunder now) he is also highly anxious. We haven't crate trained him but there are two spots in the house that when he is distressed he goes to. (Or when there is a house full of people and he just wants to sleep he takes himself off to there)  We just make those places as comfy for him and try and carry on as normal.




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