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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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to console or not console

i've heard two schools of thought with regards to a fearful dog. django shakes like a leaf with thunderstorms, fireworks. i've read you should not pet them during this time,it only reinforces their fear. i've read elsewhere that it's okay to console them because they are afraid of something and that in fact you are not reinforcing this behavior. any thoughts. 4th of july is right around the corner.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 06:24 PM
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I would believe Patricia McConnell , she is world renowned . Here is the article. http://www.theotherendoftheleash.com...-thunderstorms

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 06:25 PM
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i've heard two schools of thought with regards to a fearful dog. django shakes like a leaf with thunderstorms, fireworks. i've read you should not pet them during this time,it only reinforces their fear. i've read elsewhere that it's okay to console them because they are afraid of something and that in fact you are not reinforcing this behavior. any thoughts. 4th of july is right around the corner.
I think it's somewhere in between. You sure don't want to reinforce fearful behavior, but I think you can be supportive, and try to jolly them out of it, if possible. For instance, trying to distract them with a toy. If Django has a specific fear of load noises, like fire works and thunderstorms, I'd consider getting him a Thundershirt. I've heard a number of people say they work wonders. (works like swaddling a baby)


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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 06:33 PM
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Yeah Karen those thundershirts do have some success. But here is another aricle that refutes the theory. It is myth #6 of Jean Donaldson's 10 Dog Training Myths. 6) If you pat your dog when he's afraid, you're rewarding the fear. Fear is an emotional state a reaction to the presence or anticipation of something highly aversive. It is not an attempt at manipulation. If terrorists enter a bank and order everybody down on the floor, the people will exhibit fearful behaviour. If I then give a bank customer on the floor a compliment, 20 bucks or chocolates, is this going to make them more afraid of terrorists next time? It's stunningly narcissistic to imagine that a dog's fearful behaviour is somehow directed at us (along with his enthusiastic door-dashing).

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 06:52 PM
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Yet another article by Suzanne Hetts (Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist) , Patricia is also a CAAB . Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists have:

•Obtained an undergraduate degree, usually requiring 4 years, at an accreditated college or university.
•Gained admission to an accredited graduate school or veterinary school through a highly competitive admission process.
•Completed post-graduate education receiving a Master’s (2-year full time) or Ph.D.(4-year full time) degree in a behavioral science, or DVM or VMD degree with a behavioral residency.
•Passed rigorous oral and written examinations given by their faculty committees.
•Published articles in scientific journals.
•Supervised hands-on experience with animals.
•Met the course work and experience requirements for certification as set forth by the Animal Behavior Society http://www.fearfuldogs.com/fearstudy.html

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Last edited by davetgabby; 06-22-2010 at 07:55 PM.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 07:17 PM
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Here is Trisha's article on Thunder phobic dogs. http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/thu...a-in-dogs.html

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-23-2010, 07:12 AM
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The way I see it - I don't think they are going to become less afraid of thunderstorms. When Gryff is shaking like a leaf, I am going to try and comfort him. He is afraid of them too.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-23-2010, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by davetgabby View Post
Yeah Karen those thundershirts do have some success. But here is another aricle that refutes the theory. It is myth #6 of Jean Donaldson's 10 Dog Training Myths. 6) If you pat your dog when he's afraid, you're rewarding the fear. Fear is an emotional state a reaction to the presence or anticipation of something highly aversive. It is not an attempt at manipulation. If terrorists enter a bank and order everybody down on the floor, the people will exhibit fearful behaviour. If I then give a bank customer on the floor a compliment, 20 bucks or chocolates, is this going to make them more afraid of terrorists next time? It's stunningly narcissistic to imagine that a dog's fearful behaviour is somehow directed at us (along with his enthusiastic door-dashing).
Actually, Dave, this is an area where I have intimate experience, having been the manager of a bank where I and 12 employees and customers were held at gun point for several hours, and then I was taken, still at gun point from the bank to cover the robber's get away.

While you are right that offering people a cup of coffee or some candy wouldn't have helped, I strongly believe that having a pity party wouldn't have helped either. (and that's what many pet owners do when their animal is distressed) I needed to stay calm, matter of fact and supportive without being too sympathetic to get everyone through that experience. (of course I totally fell apart later, but that's a different story!<g>) All of the hostages interviewed after the robbery stated that it was the fact that I stayed so calm (still not sure how) that kept them from completely losing it.

That's the point I was trying to get across.

Also, as far as the Thundershirts are concerned, while there are some dogs that are just WAY beyond that being helpful, I can't tell you how many people I know who have dogs afraid of thunderstorms who have been helped immensely by the Thundershirts. They aren't that expensive, are completely dog-friendly (except that long haired Havs look pretty silly with all the hair sticking out both ends) and, I think, well worth a try with a fearful dog.


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-23-2010, 07:33 AM
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We have 3 out of 13 dogs who are afraid of storms-Imme, Belle, and Meg. The Thundershirt works for Imme but not the other two. We call it to Imme, her bulletproof jacket. We ask her if she wants to put on her bulletproof vest and she comes wanting it. She's a normal dog with it on.

Belle and Meg will get in my chair with me, and Belle trys to bury herself behind me and Meg almost under my left leg. They tremble the whole time, but return to normal as soon as the storm passes.

The important thing is that they don't pick up ANY anxiety from you. Consoling, baby talk, or whatever you call it will only make it worse. Just like in all sorts of other situations, the dog needs for you to be strong. You are not going to make it better by doing anything other than just being there with them and being the strong one. Imme is the oldest one afraid of storms. She's 11 and strong as a small horse, so it won't hurt them.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-23-2010, 07:42 AM
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Karen, what an incredibly scary experience you had!!! I'm not sure I would have been able to maintain my cool if it had been me(in fact I know I couldn't have!!!) So glad it turned out OK.

Cocotini never used to be scared of thunderstorms until last summer when we were at our house in New Bern and we had the loudest thunderstorm I had ever heard. It zapped our power and went on for hours. Cocotini went and hid under the bed- no amount of coaxing would bring her out until it was over. She has hidden under the bed a couple of more times,but only when we have had very severe thunderstorms. Not sure there is anything I can do(consoling or otherwise when I can't even reach her under the middle of the bed!!!) She seems to be getting better about it, so maybe ignoring the behavior is best (don't really know)

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