How NIX and I Dealt with the Fourth of July, and Survive His Thunderstorm Phobia

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Is Your Dog Scared of Noise or Storms?

As my dog has aged he has developed noise sensitivity.

I did all the right things when he was a youngster, I desensitized him to noise and we use to spend the Fourth of July wandering the streets of our neighborhood watching fireworks and having the dogs do scent detection work.

He used to be bomb proof.

But it can be common for dogs to become more sensitive to sound as they age, and he did.

Then a year ago he was diagnosed with meningitis and a seizure disorder .  He is now almost 12 and a half and treatment for the symptoms of meningitis is the best I can offer at his age.

But his brain is swollen and so when he hears loud noises, it can actually hurt him.  Not to mention the fact that stress can cause seizures and a seizure could ultimately kill him at his age.

AND, he is my heart and soul.  Most days, I think he is my reason for living.  I would do anything for this dog.

So I have gotten more familiar with how to treat and deal with noise sensitivity as it relates to him and his health.

For Dogs with Noise and Thunderstorm Phobias

First…

You must train for these events when, and this is really really important, there is no storm coming.

If every time you run through a training program or desensitization program and immediately following your training there is a storm…you are just the precursor to the storm for your dog.

YOU can illicit stress and trauma for your dog if you are not careful.

So train several times a week for thunderstorms or other overwhelming noises!

The Regiment

First I wipe my dog down with dryer sheets.  I have read, in many places that the electricity in an electrical storm can actually shock and hurt your dog.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but it is worth a try (and he smells fabulous afterward) so I wipe him down with a dryer sheet.

Next, I make him a peanut butter bone or give him a rawhide or bully stick to chew on and keep him occupied.

Some swear by the Thundershirt so you can also put this on if you are a believer!

Then we head off to my bedroom, his safe place and “haven” for a storm.

Put a Special Bed in His Haven

How to Make it a Haven…

Block all light.  I have noticed if my dog can see the lightning strike his whole body tenses and prepares for the boom of the thunder.  I want to block all triggers to this fear.

I have two sets of drapes over my windows, and I have foam insulation cut out that I can easily put into the windows to block the rest of the light.

He has his own special therapeutic dog bed in a corner of the room.

I have a loud fan on that I leave on during the day (and night so I don’t have to hear the kids or cats running around).  This fan cuts down on background noises which is helpful during a storm.

AND, I have a TV and radio in the bedroom so that I can drown noise out even more.

We head off to the bedroom and I take a moment to read a book, write some dog training articles, play on facebook, listen to some really LOUD Bon Jovi (thank goodness music doesn’t bother him) or we turn on the TV and watch a movie or two I have waiting on the DVR.

Training Sessions Don’t Have to be Long

When you are training for an event, 15 minutes to a half hour is all it takes to get your dog use to the regiment and getting into enjoying his treat.

During a storm, you may be stuck in there a bit longer!

When you are Gone

Make sure to leave the fan and some noise (radio) on in your dog’s safe haven.

Wipe your dog down with dryer sheets if you so desire, before you go.

I know that occasionally I am going to be out shopping or working when a storm looms and there is nothing really that I can do for him while I am gone.

But I also know that by training for storms I am giving him the skills to know where to go and what to do when I am gone, and I know that he goes into the bedroom at the first sign of a storm.

On the Fourth of July

Last night was Independence Day with all the festivities and fireworks going on around us and around the house, I decided to stay home with my dog and make sure he was okay rather than going to partake.

So at about 8:30 when I heard the first explosion of celebrations I grabbed his PB bone and we headed to the bedroom.

We shared Cheetos and milk and he had his bone and we watched chick flicks until the kids and husband returned.  And, I am proud to say it worked like a charm, I don’t think he heard one firework or fire cracker.

And, I believe that is due to my due diligence in getting him into the bedroom and comfortable in that environment!

Good luck to all of you with phobic dogs! I swear by this program!

There are 12 Comments

  1. Alice says:

    Excellent suggestions. I’ve written down all of your suggestions for later reference.
    I turn on a fan that makes “white noise” that helps my miniature dachshund to sleep at night when my husband (who has a sleeping disorder is up most nights, or when guest, or grandchildren are up moving around late at night.

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  2. Brittany says:

    My dog London has now learned how to use the bathroom and obey her owner and does not beg for food at the table!!!!!!

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  3. Thank you for the information. I have a maltese shihtzu who is terrified of storms she is 6 years old and just began to hate them. This is the time of year for them so I have a job on my hands now.

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  4. Lynda says:

    Thank you for your response. I think I can discount meningitis or seizures, he’s been afraid of thunder since I got him 13 years ago. Interestingly, he’s not afraid of fireworks.

    I’m going to try your other suggestions. My bedroom is dark, I have soundproof windows because of NYC traffic, and his special memory foam bed is in there, so I’m partly there. I’ll start to train on the other thinks now because we’re no expecting a storm for a few days.

    Thank again.

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  5. Aurora says:

    Dryer sheets are extremely toxic!
    They contain cancer causing chemicals.
    Google “toxic dryer sheets”
    Wee bit of hand lotion will accomplish the same goal workout making your dog ill.
    better use an organic lotion for your beloved pet.

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    Minette Reply:

    Everything is promoted to cause cancer, especially online. Until I see something from a veterinary study or one on humans (you do realize we use the on our clothes), I will stick with what is known to stop the static and shock.

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  6. Xavia says:

    Is it ever possible to recondition a dog who has been hit by lightning not once but twice (I saw both, small bolts which didn’t make him pass out tho I’m sure it hurt like hell) – can’t blame him for being scared to death, I know people who have been hit as well and equally scared.

    I sometimes think it is genetic and/or as well as conditioning– I also have a rescue who was on his own for 3 months as a pup, phobic of all loud sounds, no idea of his history – you’re right, best place for him is a closet in basement (to which he retreats on his own so he can’t see lightning & barely hear thunder (no door). And a Marley type of lab who didn’t turn phobic til 1 year old for no apparent reason.

    We also had a ball-crazy pit who thought he could chase bullets when we target practiced, he could hear them hitting the leaves/grass, and could’ve cared less about the noise (all it took was one shot for him to chase as a pup, & of course we immediately put him in the house.)

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  7. Lori Harfert says:

    I have done all the things you have listed for my dog and thunder storms, gun shots and fireworks. She has her own crate in a dark room, but she just does everywhere like she is running from it. She has eaten drywall all over the house, ate through 2×4 and last tore my front door apart. I mean there was a huge hole in the door. I leave the TV or radio on loud and that does nothing. Are there any other suggestions? PLEASE

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    Minette Reply:

    Talk to your vet about medication to help.

    And I suggest a crate she can’t break out of; leave her in the crate with all the noise loud around her and she should hear less.

    Although these are expensive; they work and they are cheaper than walls and doors and constantly fixing things and there is nothing to hurt the dog. http://www.americas-pet-store.com/folding-aluminum-dog-crate-medium.html?gclid=CJ2j0MOp2sMCFQ4dgQod8ZEAPA

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  8. Karen Shepherd says:

    My Sheli is afraid of thunder and fireworks. I put her in my room with the TV and the fan going. The louder the noise the more she shakes. I found that having my roomate’s dog in there with her helps a little. He isn,t bothered by the noise and his calmness (he naps) seems to help.

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  9. Peggy lowder says:

    My dog is terrified of thunder storms I have a thunder coat but doesn’t help a lot and I always have the TV on and that doesn’t help either,he is beginning to be scared of all loud noises, what advice can you give me?

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    Minette Reply:

    read the article

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