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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 07:27 AM Thread Starter
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Sudden thunderstorm anxiety

Isabelle, who is almost 3 years old, has just yesterday become afraid of thunderstorms. She was never afraid before. We were all in the house together with nothing unusual happening. There was a clap of thunder and we saw her slink along the walls to go into the bedroom and jump up on the bed and snuggle herself in the pillows. Hoping we were doing the right thing we went in, petted her, told her we loved her and just allowed her to stay where she felt most comfortable. When the storm was over she came back out to the center of the house and was just fine. Unfortunately another storm developed within a half hour. She exhibited the same behavior. Wonder what has caused this new fear of thunderstorms? Does anyone have any ideas how we can help her handle this new fear?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 08:18 AM
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Same thing happening with Fedja recently! He will be 5 years old next September, was never afraid of fireworks/thunderstorms and all of the sudden he developed this anxiety just last month. Nothing strange/frightening happened as far as I can tell (we're always together, so I'm pretty sure he didn't experience anything bad. Maybe something small that we people mis?). I do have to say that from the very beginning he was never fond of loud music/big parties, so my guess is that he always was kind of sensitive to loud noises and now he generalized his fears to thunderstorm also.
We're having a really lousy summer this year, with a few thunderstorms this last month. When that happens he also prefers to go upstairs to one of the bedrooms to hide. I let him do that and go with him and try to involve him in some playing so as to distract him from listening to thunder. It comes down to letting him lick me endlessly LOL as he is crazy about licking, and it seems that licking is helping him to relax better. Not saying you should do that hahaha, only sharing my experiences with this sudden fear of thunderstorms.
This is one of the articles I have found on the net dealing with fear of noises.
http://www.aspcabehavior.org/article...of-Noises.aspx

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 09:13 AM
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I can't give you any advice on exactly how to handle it, because it hasn't happened to us (yet). But I do know that I've read that around 3 years old is a typical time for thunder anxieties to develop.

I can tell you that I've been working on preventing Kodi becoming afraid of thunder by making a point to play with him or do fun training stuff whenever there is a thunderstorm. I figure if I can keep his mind off it, and create a sense of normalcy, he is less likely to become reactive to it. That's just a theory, though.

I'm not sure that would work if the dog was already really afraid, and I CERTAINLY wouldn't feed into the fear by giving treats when she is in that state of mind. But you might try to see if you could interest her in a fun game, or get her to respond to some simple commands so that you can reward THOSE and work toward keeping her busy during thunder storms.


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you both for your suggestions. I've read the article and will try that. Isabelle is a very very laid back Hav. Her idea of playing is eating. She was never interested in any type of toy. Kind of strange, don't you think? Of course her whole life has been with 2 older goldens and with the two of us. I guess she has gotten used to living with senior citizens--human and canine. She continues to make us smile with her "happy to be alive" antics and her gentle nature.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by cap View Post
Thank you both for your suggestions. I've read the article and will try that. Isabelle is a very very laid back Hav. Her idea of playing is eating. She was never interested in any type of toy. Kind of strange, don't you think? Of course her whole life has been with 2 older goldens and with the two of us. I guess she has gotten used to living with senior citizens--human and canine. She continues to make us smile with her "happy to be alive" antics and her gentle nature.
Most dogs LOVE training with their owners, especially if there is FOOD involved. Maybe start training her with some simple tricks so that you have something to work on and keep her occupied during storms. For lots of dogs, this IS "play". You might find you really enjoy it too! There are books you can buy for teaching tricks, and YouTube is FULL of videos on trick-training!


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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 02:11 PM
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Gucci is like bipolar when it comes to thunderstorm anxiety, sometimes she crawls on my chest and sleeps on my face, other times, she just comes a bit closer to me. If we are awake, she stays very close to me, usually under my sewing desk, which is where I am 90% of my waking hours these days.

Now fireworks, those are always scary! I think it is more to do with the loud sounds and them being so intense with them. Most of the people I know locally who have tried the thunder shirts, claim they don't help and cause mats, but IDK..I don't think i'd ever use one

Kara
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 05:35 PM
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Yeah Sena's article is good. A little long but covers just about any noise phobia. I also like Patricia McConnell's article. http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/thu...a-in-dogs.html Your efforts to reassure her really won't help, but they won't make it any worse because it's impossible to reinforce fear. It seems modest fear at this point, but you don't want it to get out of hand either. Then you're talking drugs etc.

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Last edited by davetgabby; 06-26-2012 at 05:49 PM.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 06:45 PM
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Pixie too has a nervous breakdown over bad weather. It's been particularly rotten here thanks to Debby, so she's been a real Klingon.

Beth, Pixie Puff and MiG too
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 07:00 PM
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Pixie too has a nervous breakdown over bad weather. It's been particularly rotten here thanks to Debby, so she's been a real Klingon.
Ahh Beth, not my poor Pixie girl.

Dave and Molly
Ian Dunbar was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from I.P.D.T.A. Here's a picture of me accepting the award on his behalf.
Member of IAABC ,International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants , Member of Pet Professional Guild
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 07:03 PM
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At the first sign of a coming storm we put Gracie into her Thundershirt. She started showing fear about 18 months old to fireworks, then to thunder. She is now 2 1/2. I think it helps alot but doesn't get her back to normal. She likes to lie in her kennel until the monster passes.

Leslie, Mom to Gracie (Noblegold Saving Grace) and Angie the HavaShih Rescue
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