terrifed of storms and loud noises

Posted by katebell
Feb 23, 2008
Help my dog a 7 year old staffy is terrified of storms and loud noises and is it get worse. I have tried medication from the vets but this had to be given 1/2 an hour before a storm which isn't always possible. She is pulling screen doors off and scratching on the gate which makes a loud noise and disturbs the neighbours. We are at our wits end and my husband is talking about finding a new home for her.
Posted by Blue
Feb 26, 2008
Hi there, sorry to hear of your predicament!

Have you tried speaking to a dog behaviourist? Sometimes the best way to deal with the issue at hand is to have a behaviourist come in and assess your relationship with the dog, and if there's somewhere in the relationship that could be improved so as to boost the dogs confidence.

Desensitization may also be something you need to try. A high quality recording of storms will do. Play the recording, don't try to comfort the dog - put her on a leash and give her a quiet reprimand and jerk when she starts getting stressed. Sometimes a dogs bad reactions can be stopped by preventing the fear from escalating to a "mindless obsessive" state, where their panic and fear is so great that they may even injure themselves.

If you can stop this state of mind before it starts, you may be able to desensitize her to storms, and eventually leave her alone during storms.

I found this link:
[url=http://www.f7sound.com/dog.htm]Dogs afraid of thunderstorms ! Suburban Thunder can help calm your dog's fear.[/url]
you could purchase an audio cd/mp3 download from there to begin desensitizing - or look for other sources of storm sounds online.

You may want to ask (message) a moderator like Todd about the best way to approach desensitization to thunderstorms with your dog.

Hope this was of help,
Posted by Todd
Feb 27, 2008
Hi there and thanks for your question

Fear of thunder storms and loud noises can be a very difficult thing to solve.

Some ideas i have heard have been to play music when she is eating. Start at a low level and slowly over time increase the sound of the music (sounds of thunder are even better), but you must stay quiet. Make sure to praise her for being relaxed.

If she starts to react make her sit and stay, this will help her relax. Once she has relaxed praise her to reinforce this behaviour.

This is the method i have heard has good results. If at any stage she starts reacting during a storm get her attention and try to get her to relax. Food is great for that as is DAP a natural pheromone you can get from your local vet.
I can't make any promises but be patient and try and reduce the level of noise during a storm eg use a quieter room in the house.

She should always have a way away to hide where she feels safe from the noise and storms. This may be a kennel or a quiet room in the house, she should never be locked in this will only make things worse.

There are a number if CD's that you can use that have thunder sounds on them that you can use. These will have instructions on how to use them. The best is Sounds Scary.

Now below is the best way i feel to deal with these issues.

I have a few recommendations for you.

1. As soon as you see signs of distress, distract your dog by playing a game, or getting your dog to do some tricks. Make sure you give it lots of treats for paying attention. As the storm builds you may not be able to keep your dogs attention on the game, but it will prolong the start of its scratching for longer and longer each time you do it. If you find that your dog is too scared to pay attention to you, then stop the game.

2. Counter-Conditioning. Teach your dog to react in a non-fearful way. You can do this by slowly exposing your dog to the noises that frighten it, but pair it with a fun game, or some treats. You could start with a tape of firecrackers at a volume low enough that your dog is not scared, then while it’s playing, give your dog some treats, or play a game with it. Next time, turn the volume up a bit louder, and continue giving your dog the treats. Over time continue increasing the volume. If at anytime your dog begins to show signs of stress, stop the tape, and try again another day.

3. Medication. If the product you have tried hasn't work talk to your vet about changing the dose rate and possibly using other products. I find DAP brilliant as well as Clomicalm but your vet will be the best at giving you the right advice.

Good luck and please let me know how things go. And thank you Blue for helping out as i have been at a conference for 2 days.