Friday, May 1, 2009

Storm Training

We had a huge thunderstorm roll in last week. Complete with marble-sized hail, fierce winds, and non-stop thunder and lightening.

Stacker is our current storm phobic. He is not as bad as Teresa was, but this storm had him panting, drooling, and shaking. His is related to the sound. He only becomes nervous at the first clap of thunder and for small storms we can usually mask it with the sleep sound machine and TV.

As I have said before, Reagan is hypersensitive to certain loud base noises. While not a storm phobic (and I pray that she stays that way), she has been frightened of extremely loud cracks of thunder. The kind of thunder that is so loud it rocks the house. So I took the opportunity to do some counter conditioning during the storm.

Ideally, I tossed Reagan a treat for each clap of thunder. However, the thunder was non-stop at times. I have to admit that the storm was so strong that I was nervous, but Reagan happily enjoyed the raining treats and had a good experience.

Counter conditioning is probably not going to change her petrified response to the extremely loud noises. I would need to have control over the noises and to be able to produce it at a low level and then a gradually increasing level over time.

However, if I take no positive action at all, Reagan may start to fear all storms due to the possibility of extremely loud thunder (even if it only happens occasionally). But if Reagan associates storms with treats, she will look forward to them and hopefully recover quickly from an unusually loud thunder boom. Creating a general positive association with storms may help us ride out the truly frightening ones.