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Taanzaa 04-19-2014 12:29 PM

Rescued GSD Escapes
Hello: I'm a new member to the forum. I have owned 4 dogs in my life, a Sheltie, GSD, Great Pyr, and now the 2nd GSD, Papa. it has been about 1 1/2 years since I rescued him. He has escaped about 6-times, twice being picked up by animal control. He has destroyed my privacy fence (we are talking brand new pickets). He is deathly afraid of storms, fireworks, puttering cars, lawn mowers, pneumatic hammers, etc. he has chewed a hole through my garage door, bent the metal garage door. Even if I am with him through storms he's afraid. The destructiveness has gotten quite expensive and very frustrating.

Any ideas besides walking, exercising to tire him out? That makes no difference at all. I'm no runner, and we have walked miles, came back he'll sleep an hour or so, look in the backyard and he's gone. I'm really afraid to have him in the house as I cannot afford the destruction I know he is capable of. He's an older dog (8 or so). I've tried flower remedies, and such. Yes, he escapes when he hears loud noises, but also when he doesn't. I have not experienced these behaviors with my previous GSD, nor any of my other dogs. Any advice would be appreciated.


scarfish 04-19-2014 12:49 PM

i have never left my dogs in the backyard unattended. a dog can dig under a fence if they want out bad enough. i stand behind the screen door and watch them when they are outside. if they even have a look like they are looking for a way out or want to dig i'm out that door immediately. don't let him in the garage. i'm no expert but just sounds like he needs more supervision and work on his confidence.

as for the being afraid of everything, more exposure to these things paired with obedience classes will help. agility classes are also great at building confidence.

scarfish 04-19-2014 12:51 PM

i would even go as far as playing thunderstorm sounds on youtube for him and giving him treats and praises as soon as he stops whining.

middleofnowhere 04-19-2014 04:09 PM

Whole Dog Journal had an article on desensitising dogs/dealing with noise phobias (sp). You might check them out.

Thundershirts are supposed to do really well for some animals in storms.

Taanzaa 04-19-2014 11:57 PM

Thank you all for your replies. I have not tried desensitizing him. Perhaps I'll try that. As for not leaving him outside, after viewing the damage he's done outside, I'm afraid to leave him in the house for fear he would chew a whole in the wall or break out a window. I have never crated him or locked him in the garage. During a bad thunderstorm I have closed the garage door. But, normally he can walk in and out of the garage whenever. My Pyr Puff didn't like fireworks, so 4th of July she went to the garage as her safe place. The others had no noise issues at all. I'm just wondering at his age if it will ever get any better.

middleofnowhere 04-20-2014 01:52 AM

It might not get better but you might be able to control it. I think they often seek out places like bathtubs or closets so indoors would probably be more comforting for the dog. I had one dog that disliked thunder, fireworks and trains. She would go someplace like behind the couch in a storm. When her hearing started to get bad, the thunder and fireworks bothered her far less.

GSDAlphaMom 04-20-2014 09:21 AM

If you go with a noise cd, start out with the volume VERY low. Have you considered a thunder shirt? Thundershirt | The Best Dog Anxiety Treatment

Nigel 04-20-2014 09:32 AM

Would medication help? Not a huge fan, but if it can improve quality of life might be worth looking into. Combined with training it may help curb some of his anxiety, might try asking your vet.

Zeeva 04-20-2014 01:10 PM

This is a heart-breaking story especially because of the destruction :C

I agree with the possibility of medicating.

And I know you don't crate, but do you think you could try crate training him? If you do try crate training him, I'd look for an (expensive) metal crate that is made for working dogs. It might contain him so you don't have to leave him unattended in the yard (which is dangerous).

Zeeva is deathly afraid of fireworks and noises of the like. I can't crate her either on firework days. I have to put a prong on her and lie with her till the noises subside...

Magwart 04-20-2014 04:37 PM

Medicate, and get the dog inside -- not in a garage, inside. Ideally, during thunderstorms, we want them in a bathroom (most dogs prefer to be in a tub or large shower enclosure, or next to the toilet as the metal parts somehow help with the electricity in the air that is suspected of setting off many dogs).

I've got a storm phobic foster right now who will injure himself -- will try to go through glass window panes in abject terror. He's even tried to climb through a wall mirror to "get out." He'll scratch and scream inconsolably.

I tried D.A.P., thundershirt and calming essential oils -- they moved the threshold trigger so that the terror starts later (after the storm is in full swing, instead of in anticipation of it). They didn't stop the behavior though. Once the terror sets in, he has no idea what he's doing or where he is. It's sheer panic.

I've seen this extreme behavior in rescue exclusively in dogs who've lived outside -- and had to suffer alone through very scary storms. I think it becomes a kind of PTSD for them -- as soon as they hear booms (even from a subwoofer), the quivering starts (mine looks up at the ceiling if he hears any rumbling at all).

My vet is treating another rescue's foster who broke his own leg due to this kind of storm fear--trying to get out of a crate. When storm phobia is bad, self-injury is a very real possibility.

On my vet's advice, we now "Ace" my foster when there's a thunderstorm (using Acepromazine, a sedative.) It's not pretty, but it's better than him hurting himself or going through that extreme level of terror. He's loopy and walks around but doesn't much care about the noise. It has made the storms bearable for him -- he'll nap right through them or at most just whine a bit. I can leave him in a large masterbath and go to work, and come home after a storm and find him calm and relaxed, without any destruction or self-injury.

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