thunder thunder thunder!!! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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thunder thunder thunder!!!

took mags to the park and we got caught in the rain. a thunder storm... lets just say it was death to mags, she was yelping and whinning trying to get under the pinic tables while i was trying to get her to the pavilion.. it was full blown panic mode. a friend was with me, she has a 6 yr old husky. once we got her to the pavilion we clapped for her we pumped her up with how good she was doing. i have no idea if this will help reduce fear during the next storm. she is 14 weeks old she hates the rain this storm just really freaked her out. any suggestions on how i can make it easier for her. is this just an age thing...hoping she will grow out of it..

she was already wet from playing in the water. climbing rocks to build confidence. and running in the streams.

shes pooped out!!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 07:41 PM
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We live in northern Newfoundland, where thunderstorms are indeed rare. Just today Sheba (who is just shy of 10 months old) experienced thunder for the very first time, and she was quite scared... but understandably so, as she had never in her life heard this type of sound. Admittedly it was kinda comical to see our 86 lb beast's eyes bug out and immediately jump right into my arms for protection... and just a few seconds later, a second loud clap sent her flying up the stairs and into our bedroom, trembling with fright. I suppose that if thunderstorms were a regular occurrence here, she would quickly grow accustomed to them, but we only have these storms perhaps 1 or 2 times each summer. (she has no trouble with heavy downpours though... or blizzards! )

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 08:14 PM
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The dogs I’ve had with solid nerves have never thought anything of thunder. Not even when they first experienced it. Perhaps get a thundershirt. It helped my one very storm phobic dog.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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She is amazing! so beautiful!!! Wow Glen!! great looking pup!

Yes this was mags 1st thunderstrom to be caught in it. litterally pouring down on us. but storms in MD are different all the time and can be anything from light rain to 20min of hail.
i felt so bad for her she was so scared and all i could do was tell her it would be okay.
omgosh yes she ran and tried to jump up for me to carry her.
the people in the pavilion prob thought i was nutz holding her.....
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 09:13 PM
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I try to keep some very high value chews that are just for thunder. We use bully sticks as "thunder treats." Get them chewing a few minutes before the storm hits, so that they're in "the zone" when the thunder booms. Not only is chewing an excellent distraction (because it's self-regulating relaxation), but the treats practice counter conditioning -- creating a happy association with the storm (favorite treat!).

Some dogs respond positively to thunder shirts, but not all do. Some respond very mildly to calming pheromones (there are several brands marketed as "dog appeasing pheromones, or DAP), but I don't think they'll help dogs that get terrified. Some also respond to calming essential oils in a diffuser (I especially like Aura Cacia's "Mellow Mix" blend, as it seems to cause some dogs to just sack out).

Overall though, none of these products is a magic bullet, and so it's very important to read up on "Classical Counter-Conditioning." If all else fails, get them into the bathroom (in the tub, or between the tub and toilet), where the pipes act as grounding. They're not just reacting to sound but to the electrical charge in the air -- many dogs go into the bathroom for "self-help" during storms once they figure out it's a good room to be in. Patricia McConnell's site has lots of good info:

Thunderstorms can be scary for dogs with anxiety | Patricia McConnell | McConnell Publishing Inc.

I also want to warn that this can be a learned behavior. I have a dog with pretty good nerves who watched our little scaredy-dog female have storm meltdowns. Now he mimics her -- he didn't used to care about storms, but she convinced him its something to worry about.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 10:43 PM
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I also think it is a temperament/nerve issue. When I was in the first grade, 5 or 6 years old, my first grade teacher brought in the clothes her husband was wearing when he was struck and killed by lightning. He had a camera around his neck and his clothes were burned through. I am terrified of thunder and lightning.

My dogs, however are not, even though they have seen me tremble and shake and even run into the house or car. So, they really do not take their cues off of me. It just doesn't phase them. And that is from puppy on up.

I was at a GSD club meeting when a conformation judge was speaking. She said that the first thing they look at is temperament. It was thundering and lightening outside. She said, of course on a night like tonight, they would take that into consideration. Well, I thought, guess who has thunder sensitivity in her lines.

I think your best bet is to watch your weather reports, and if there is a possibility of thunder or lightning, you are at home with her, with the AC on if possible, where she is most comfortable. Some dogs with storm phobias need medication. Lots of people swear by the thunder shirts.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-10-2018, 12:35 AM
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I grew up in Oregon, and where I lived it was a special treat to see lightning bolts, most often the lightning we'd see was what is called sheet lightning, where the whole sky lights up but no cool bolts.

When I was a kid, probably 3rd grade, I was walking home from school and got caught in a thunderstorm. The lightning was of the sheet variety, but the thunder that followed literally knocked me to the ground, it was so immediate and loud! I was scared a little, but I distinctly remember getting up with a huge grin on my face! I ran home, of course, but to me that was an awesome experience!

When I moved to Colorado, where lightning storms are an almost daily occurance during the spring and summer, I literally spent more time watching storms than looking at TV! I freaking love it! Coincidently every dog I've had, loves storms as well, so maybe they do get some of that from us, who knows.

I know my current puppy was not bothered by thunder the first time she heard it. But I agree with what others have said about keeping your dog out of storms if it bothers them. Hopefully all the positive reinforcement you did afterward will help!

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-10-2018, 01:41 AM
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Interesting thoughts on the subject.
I had a dog who was afraid of thunder, we would crate him and turn a radio on to drown out the sound.

However, when I had other pups in the house with him we would take them outside to sit in the gazebo during storms and get treats and play tug. I did not want them infected with his fear.
Shadow still heads for the door when storms hit. We either sit on the steps or out in the gazebo since I love storms. The badder the better! Particularly bad claps will sometimes startle her but they don't frighten her.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-10-2018, 02:42 AM
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I do NOT think it’s an age thing - I say that because when Rollo was 8 weeks old I was taking him out to use the bathroom and thunder immediately started booking down and Rollo took a step back looked around and then went on to use the bathroom..never made a noise! He is 6 months now and loves being out in the rain and thunder.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-10-2018, 03:09 AM
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On YouTube there are a few storm and thunder clips, which may (or not) help with desensitization.

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