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Why are dogs scared of thunderstorms?

An all too common issue for a lot of dogs, unfortunately. Yet it is mostly preventable and is definitely treatable.

An all too common issue for a lot of dogs, unfortunately. Yet it is mostly preventable and is definitely treatable.

My second dog as a child was a Boxer named Smudge and as all Boxers, he was very playful, cheeky and overall a great dog. Yet he was terrified of thunderstorms, he would absolutely panic. He would shake uncontrollably and would try to hide anywhere he could. At the time we all thought patting, holding and talking to him would help. Were we so wrong! So over the years, the behaviour became a lot stronger to the point he would escape the backyard and run for as long as he could. After one storm one night when we were not home he climbed the fence and was found over 20 kilometres away. Luckily he was unharmed.

I have seen dogs that have launched themselves through glass windows, chewed through doors, destroyed furniture, pace uncontrollably or will huddle into a corner in sheer panic and soaked with saliva.

While people have said to me in the past, oh it’s ok he just hides under the bed etc and we wait for the storm to end and he will come out.

Well, what if you or your child had an issue like this would you leave it untreated? Obviously, the answer is no of course not, then why would you leave your dog with this issue?

Because of the sudden nature of thunder coupled with shaking the house etc and this normally happens as a pup or young dog, thus leaving the dog with a very negative memory of it. As I was talking to a client today about another fear related issue, it only happened once but it has stayed with that dog for years as it was left untreated therefore the issue has been compounded. In a lot of cases, it only has to happen once.

Every time I get a pup one of my main objectives is to ensure that I desensitize them to loud and sudden noises, this will include all yard equipment ie; chainsaws, mowers and obviously workshop tools and machines. I will also visit the local gun clubs and will train the dogs close to the firing range to ensure that these loud and sudden noises will never be an issue and therefore they never are. Yet I always make sure I have permission to do so from the club.

There are so many easy exercises that can be done to help a dog to be as confident as possible. The breeder I got my dog Logan from would play a whole host of noises on his stereo system that did include explosions, gunfire, babies crying and so on. Because of the extra effort, Logan’s breeder put in coupled with my efforts, he has no issues to noises and any environments.

Regardless of age, there is always something that can be done to improve the quality of a dog’s life. As with anything, there is always a variation in the success we can have with any dog. As I always say ‘less is always more’ so in small increments with the help and use of different noises, environments coupled with some functional training you to can have a confident and a happy dog.

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