There is a great deal that you can do to comfort your noise-phobic dog. See article following the videos. More articles coming soon.
Roxie with her pillow, quilt, stuffed toys, and radio waiting out a thunderstorm Aug 18/2008
The bathtub was the only place Roxie felt safe during a thunderstorm
Roxie preferred to listen to canine lullabies during a thunderstorm. If I didn’t have Roxie’s boombox available I would turn on the radio to help her through a thunderstorm.
ROXIE OUR A CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL WAITING OUT A THUNDERSTORM JULY 2007
Stormy Weather at Great Tree Inn – Roxie Waiting Out Another Thunderstorm JULY 2007
Roxie trying to find a safe place to hide from the summer thunder shower June 9, 2007
The place Roxie felt safest during a thunderstorm was in our bathtub
DAMAGE TO APARTMENT BY A FRIGHTENED DOG
Dogs this frightened are known to break windows and glass doors. If your dog is this frightened your vet can treat your dog successfully with a combination of drugs. I’ve read that they will put them on a daily dose of medicine from April to October.
When walking your dog in an off leash park never leave your dog off leash if the weather is threatening. They can run away if it suddenly starts to thunder.
Experts Discuss Treating Your Phobic Dog
Music and Dogs “Through A Dog’s Ear”
Ask the Vet
PLEASE NOTE BEFORE GIVING YOUR DOG ANY MEDICINE OR REMEDY YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR VET
(EXCERPT FROM KP’S DOGBLOG) Some veterinarians will prescribe heavy-duty medications, such as Valium, Xanax, Buspirone, or Anafranil, but there is a natural supplement (available at any health-food store) called “melatonin” that can be equally effective. Melatonin is a synthetically produced hormone used by humans with insomnia to help them sleep. But in dogs, it can really take the fright out of thunderstorms and calm them right down. The dosage is 6 mg for 100+-lb. dogs; 3 mg for 50-lb. dogs; 1.5 mg for 30-lb. dogs; and 0.5 mg for 10-lb. dogs. A very small percentage of dogs might have the opposite reaction (excitement) when given melatonin, so test it out when there is no sign of a thunderstorm in sight. Another option is the flower essence Rescue Remedy for dogs who have a mild case of anxiety (also available at the health-food store).
•Behaviorally, the most important thing that you can do for Fluffy is to avoid “enabling” her, i.e., don’t validate Fluffy’s fears. Contrary to the way we primates operate, if you comfort Fluffy in a sympathetic fashion when she’s fearful, then she’ll feel that she’s right to be scared, and her fears will just get worse and worse with each new thunderstorm or fireworks event. Instead, you should go about your business normally and interact with her in an upbeat and confident manner so that she can see that there’s nothing to be afraid of. You might even give her a new toy beforehand to distract her with. If you can get her to show the slightest sign of calmness, such as wagging her tail, instantly give her a luscious treat to reinforce that behavior.
A few years ago on the Fourth of July, right after I had adopted Sunny and Dexter, I could see that both of them had the potential to become freaked out by noises, so we spent that warm summer evening outside on the deck and I clapped my hands and exclaimed, “Yay!!!” every time we heard an explosion. I am not kidding you. I’m sure my neighbors thought I was insane, but it worked and neither of them has fireworks or thunderstorm phobia to this day.
•As for the dog’s immediate environment, muffling the sound of the fireworks or thunder is very helpful. You can close all the windows and either turn on some white noise, such as a fan, or put on some canine-soothing music, such as the specially formulated music discussed in and produced by the authors of Through a Dog’s Ear. With regard to the lightning often accompanying a thunderstorm, some dogs do well if you turn all the lights on to mask it, while other dogs prefer to have their eyes covered. There is even a product called the “Calm Night Pet Hood” that is purported to calm dogs down via sensory deprivation. And many dogs seek out small rooms with no windows to hide in.
•And how about this? In response to a question about “Wrapping a dog quite tightly in a thin towel or small blanket can do miracles, giving anxious dogs a feeling of security. Cut an old cotton sheet and get your dog used to being wrapped around thethunderstorm anxiety, in his June 24, 2008, column, well-known veterinarian Michael Fox suggests, torso like a mummy. This action can help many dogs cope with thunderstorms and fireworks.”
•Dr. Nicholas Dodman, veterinarian and professor at Tufts University and author of the books Dogs Behaving Badly and The Dog Who Loved Too Much, has postulated that dogs are really freaked out by thunderstorms because of a buildup of static electricity in their coats that gives them periodic shocks. He says that this is why you will find that many dogs take shelter in bathrooms with tile floors during storms. He suggests several anti-static measures, including rubbing dogs down with anti-static laundry strips, making sure dogs stay on tile or linoleum, or just putting them in the car. All of these measures will keep the static electricity from building up and shocking them.
Sometimes you just have to try different approaches and combinations of approaches until you find out what works for your particular dog. I noticed that Sophia does much better if I turn the lights on (when a thunderstorm occurs in the middle of the night) and gets some comfort from soothing music and massage, but melatonin didn’t seem to have the desired effect on her. Recently, I was thrilled to receive this message from a friend who has been battling thunderstorm anxiety in her dog for a long time:
[We] have made it through two nights of thunderstorms without a glitch! I can’t freaking believe it, but I pieced together this part that worked a little and that part that worked a little, and we’ve gotten it down) – I hate to jinx it, but those were the calmest two nights of storms in almost four years. And one of them shook the house. … As soon as [my dog] wakes me up, which is typically before I hear thunder (I can tell what’s wrong by her state of panic), I praise her for waking me up (just as if she were waking me to go out or for an intruder), I turn on the overhead light to make it so bright in the bedroom that she can’t see the lightning (and sleep with it on), I calmly tell her we’re going to get her pill, she walks to the kitchen, I give her 1.5 mg of melatonin, I put her in bed with me (she typically refuses to sleep with me), I cuddle her close on one side and push a pillow up to her close on the other side, I cover her eyes with a dark T-shirt/towel and I pet/massage her and talk to her calmly until the melatonin kicks in. She’ll peek out a couple of times, and I let her and just tell her it’s OK. Then we both get to go back to sleep and she doesn’t move until the storm is over! WOW! Amazing. I was seriously at a loss for giving her any comfort at all.
And some dogs are fine with thunderstorms and fireworks all their lives and don’t have a single problem with them until they hit old age, when something changes along with their hearing. This is what happened to my sweet Koro. When she reached the age of 12, she suddenly developed geriatric thunderstorm anxiety and would hide underneath the kitchen sink when they approached.
As mere mortals who want to shield our beloved dogs from terror, there’s not a lot we can do to prevent acts of God, such as thunderstorms. Fireworks, on the other hand, are completely human creations and could be stopped tomorrow. What a wonderful thought! (EXCERPT FROM KP’S DOGBLOG)