Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thunder Phobia

Have I ever talked about Bernie's thunder phobia before? It seems the older he gets, the worse he gets when it rains and storms. It breaks my heart to see my usually fearless tyrant; shaking, panting, and very fearful. It started when he was about 2 years old, which is interesting that he never had any issues before the age of two.

I have tried classical conditioning with treats, and replaying thunder CD's and offering high value treats, and Bernie is too worked up to even touch or sniff what I have to offer.  I have also tried the DAP (dog appeasing pheromones) which is a plug-in that releases a pheromone scent of a lactating mother dog, this seems to help a little with him.  Next,  I tried Rescue Remedy for pets. Rescue Remedy is a mixture of   flower essences, that in homeopathic studies, have shown to reduce stress and anxiety. This also helped a little with the anxiety.  So as of right now when it storms, I put Bernie in his crate, with a blanket covering all but the front (so it's a safe little den) and wait out the storm. Some people say to pet your dog, some say not to coddle your dog, but neither petting Bernie or not petting Bernie has much of an effect on his behavior during a storm.

I am STILL searching for the right combination of methods to help Bernie during storms. I just ordered the 'ThunderShirt' that has been the new hot item that can help pets with anxiety and stress. The pressure from the wrap is supposed to help calm the dog during fearful situations. Dogs have an 85% improvement rate in anxiety, when wearing the ThunderShirt. I will be sure to give an update on how it works for Bernie.

For further great reading and a more profession opinion, check out what Patricia McConnell has to say about: Thunder Phobia

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