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.

9 comments:

ksr said...

knock on wood i don't have this problem with my boy. was at greyhounds in gettysburg last weekend and the speaker talked about wrapping your dog with ace bandage in a special way to give support (literally and figuratively). like your blog.

k

BrittBeah said...

hum, so you guys are going to be in tornado weather and your girls are going to think it is the best time ever! lol I hope all this extra training helps.

Debbie (Emma's mom) said...

Thanks Jen for the info....Emma has recently started exhibiting symptoms of storm phobia, especially with the wind howling and limbs hitting the roof. It began after a bad storm in April when a 30 foot section of the top of a tree came within 5 feet of the glass sliding door. A t-shirt (that smelled like me) on her helped one night. I have the storm CDs that you've mention before, but don't know if they will help in this situation since it's the noise of the blumping and wind that seems to trigger her response. Any suggestions?

Bronny said...

Hi Jen,
Storms my non greyhound girls both 11yrs hate storms and the older they get the worse they are unfortunately they to are beyond help. Our to Grey boys couldn't careless thankfully.
And in response to your comment on our blog. Blogging does make the world smaller isn't it great. being able to meet & talk to people all over the world is amazing. We love your blog by the way.
Bronny

Ridlon Tails said...

My Maggie is terrified of storms. She pants, shakes and then finds her "safe spot" to lay down. I am not a fan of loud thunder either! Hope the training helps your hounds! =)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks everyone. Just a little prevention work. Got more coming tonight, I think.

Jen

amanda said...

loved the story your greys are so pretty . although my grey is not scared o storms but she is scared of taking a bath.lol

Freckleville said...

Hi. I'm enjoying your blogs.
I have a lurcher (probably 70% greyhound). He used to be fine with storms but now, at age 7, he gets so stressed. Even a little creak from a door or a gust of wind if the window is open really freak him out. He destroyed a crate last winter & got caught between the bars, which could have been fatal. Now it's about trying to find a place for him to feel safe. The thing is in winter in Ireland it's just one storm after another for almost half a year!

If I let him out in the garden, where there is a very comfy patio extension with a covered crate for him, he stands in the rain getting drenched as there can be a few noises from the wind around his bed. To the best of my knowledge nothing has ever harmed him during a windy weather. I have him 5 years.
I want him to be happy & not stressed but it's hard trying to mind read. He can stay in the house up to a point (he has to go to the loo outside at some stage) during the bad weather but that's turning in to 24/7. At this rate I'll be bulk buying cotton wool to wrap him up in. Far from ideal!

He is fine on his walks during bad weather, it doesn't bother him at all.

The vet kinda shrugged & I thought "These skinny hounds could fill a dog psychiatrists entire office forever." He offered me sedatives/tranquillisers but I don't want to go that route. He'd be on them every other day. I tried classical music. I tried lavender oil. Not much effect & some dogs treats with valerian in them, they helped him sleep for half the night then he'd get up and trash his bed & try to get in to the middle of the house. I'd like him to stay in his bed where it is & not end up with a dog telling me how things are going to be from now on.

I'm talking about moderate winds, not hurricanes or tornadoes. He'd be on Xanax if he lived in countries where they occurred!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Freckleville, that really sucks. When Reagan's engine and motor phobia set in, I worked with a behaviorist and they suggested a background drug. One that you give twice a day and is on board at all times. It helps lower their overall anxiety level without sedating them. I would suggest trying Prozac/Fluoxetine first. Your vet should be able to write you a prescription to get it from a pharmacy if he doesn't have it. Its used on humans. Try that for 8 weeks. If not better, I would try Buspirone next for 8 weeks. You have to give them both 8 weeks to see if they help. Xanax would be my go-to anti-anxiety med if you knew an especially bad storm was coming or it was a holiday with fireworks. It takes effect in 30 minutes and works for about 4 hours. It gave Reagan the munchies! She was so hungry, but putting her in a safe place with a couple of stuffed Kongs worked well during a extra bad situation.

So annoying what your vet said. :-(