Fear of wind, rain, and fireworks

Posted by stigbenning
May 5, 2008

I am new in this forum and have not found any posts that relates to the problem of my dog. I am not quite sure of the race, but I would guess a mix among Australian Shepherd, Cesky Fousek, and Berger de Picard.

The dog is fairly well behaved and quite happy except in conditions of strong wind, rain and when hunters shoot or fireworks go off. Under conditions like these she can be afraid to the extend that she shakes powerfully and her teeth rattles, and no amount of comforting helps.

I would be very happy if anyone has suggestions as to what may work to relief her of this fear. Since we live in the South of France, we often have strong winds and therefore often see the dog in fear.

Thank you.
Stig Benning
Posted by Todd
May 15, 2008
HI there Stig and thanks for the post.

A few questions i need to ask before i can go on with an answer. There are 2 problems that can look very similar, a fear and a phobia. These are delt with differently so ill ask some questions and depending on your answers i'll give you a plan from there

Does it matter how loud the noise is? If it is a loud noise that is close does she react the same way as she would if it was a distant and quiet noise?

When the noises happen does she always react the same way ie does she have the same ritual she follows exactly every time?

Did she start being scared of just one noise and has slowly developed the behaviour to others?

If you can answer these i will give you a specific plan

Posted by Tarnador
May 16, 2008
My GSD was scared of fireworks and hunters guns and would cower and whine all the time. My husband used to feel sorry for him and let him in the house as he would cry and paw at the door. I felt that this only reinforces the behaviour. If you are giving affection and fuss when they are scared it doesn't help, it just makes them worse.

The next time I ignored my husband and instead, me and my daughter went outside where our dog was, but ignored him and spoke to each other. When a firework went off we started cheering and acting as if it was such a great thing to happen - after about the fourth firework, our dog started joining in the fun and wagging his tail. My point is that if
you act like something is a good experience your dog will take his cue from you and hopefully act in the same way. If you act anxious and fearful, so will your dog.

Not sure this will help in your case, you may need specialist advice.
Posted by stigbenning
May 22, 2008
Hi Todd,

Thank you for you answer and interest.

I think she has always had the same behavior. It does not matter how loud the noise is. She usually shivers (sometimes so much that her teeth ratles) and follows whoever is in the house (in case of wind, rain, and fireworks in the street) wherever he or she goes, or she crawls under the bed, or she moves around in the house as if she doesn't know where to be.

If we are out, and there are hunters shooting, it sometimes happens that she runs home without us being able to call her back. This can happen no matter if the hunters are near by or far away. In rain and wind, she is only afraid when inside, and she is very happy to get out with either one of us.

I would be very happy for whatever answer you can give, and also to provide more information, if you need.

Posted by stigbenning
May 22, 2008
Hi Tarnador

Thank you for your answer and interest.

I get your point and usually she is not being comforted when she is afraid, since it doesn't help anyway.

We will try out the celbrating technique and get back to you with the result.

Best regards,