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My dog has an extreme fear of fire works and storms

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Old 06-01-2018, 05:01 PM
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Counterconditioning to Help Dogs Get Over a Fear of Fireworks

Here is a good short video showing how to counter condition your dog to fireworks.


Counterconditioning to Help Dogs Get Over a Fear of Fireworks
DGP Dog Behavior Videos

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Old 06-01-2018, 06:10 PM
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Similarly, when I am counter conditioning Gracie to anything fearful or stressful, I always take note of what food/treat she is willing to eat at that moment AND whether she can do any of her fun tricks. If she can give me a kiss, or shake, or say meow, etc than I know she is doing pretty good at that moment.

Like today, it is 100 degrees here and Gracie is still somewhat afraid of hose water. So I played with my new puppy and the garden hose in our backyard, while positioning Gracie far away where she could just watch. I then went over to her, offered her kibble...no thanks. But she said YES for the delicious BBQ brisket!!

Then after I shut off the water and hung out for a few minutes with her to relax her, I offered Gracie the kibble again to test how she was feeling. This time, she eagerly ate the kibble. And she sat on cue and gave me a kiss on cue! And then Gracie let me gently put some hose water on her several times in exchange for some big blobs of yummy oatmeal.

In the past she NEVER would have been able to eat ANYTHING in the presence of hose water. Major Progress. Yeah!
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Old 06-02-2018, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by AthenaLove View Post
Here is a good short video showing how to counter condition your dog to fireworks.


Counterconditioning to Help Dogs Get Over a Fear of Fireworks
DGP Dog Behavior Videos

Counterconditioning to Help Dogs Get Over a Fear of Fireworks - YouTube



There ya go using food drive and commanded obedience while keeping exposure well under the dog's threshold.
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Old 06-03-2018, 01:14 PM
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My late Jack Russell was afraid of thunderstorms. He used to shake all over then run and hide in his basket and wouldn't come out until it was all over.
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:13 PM
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My late Jack Russell was afraid of thunderstorms. He used to shake all over then run and hide in his basket and wouldn't come out until it was all over.


My first, long since gone GSD, was about the same but she would jump on the bed and basically lay on our heads if the thunderstorm or fireworks occurred at night. Freakish behavior IMO and I really never appreciated the dog's phobia nor tried to DS/CC the dog. I suppose the reason was, is that I wasn't "telegraphing" any trepidation because I rather enjoy thunderstorms and fireworks and it certainly wasn't because I didn't " love " on the dog enough as some might suggest but I certainly didn't coddle the dog either at these particular moments.



I somewhat believe that dogs with a certain genetic trait are essentially destined to be more intimidated by the "unexplainable" and if they can't connect the dots they resort to this type of behavior.



I now know that a dog with weaker nerves can somewhat be conditioned to deal with the unexplainable but many times it can be a long journey if the human chooses to educate the dog.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:00 PM
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Just want to share a wonderful update on my progress with our Gracie on her storm fear issues. Maybe it will inspire some of you to try my storm fear training methods

The other day we were all settling in to go to bed about 12:30 pm. All three dogs were finally settled in their special sleeping spots. It had been a hot sunny day here. All of a sudden across our TV screen came a severe thunder warning with possible hail!!! And it was only about 10 minutes away, heading in our direction. Crapola! We hadn't heard about any storms prior for that day.

Truthfully, I was so tired and really did not have the energy to get back up and start our counter conditioning with food, etc like we normally do every single storm. But...... of course, I would get up and do it because it is SUPER important to me to help my sweet Gracie, AND I am determined to get her to the point that she is no longer bothered by storms/thunder.

So as I am telling my lazy self to get my butt up and outta bed to get the treats before the storm arrives, I look over at Gracie...... and she is lying down in her spot all cozy. WAIT....she did not tell us that the storm was coming???? Whaaaaat??? She ALWAYS tells us by pawing at us nervously panting, and climbing over our heads on our pillows like a cat (Blue Heeler mix Gracie is 40 lbs, so a bit bigger than a cat)

So we turn the TV up a bit to partially mask any thunder that may come (yeah right) and decide for once to wait and see....

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. No stress response whatsoever from Gracie!! She never even tells us. I sneak a few more peeks at her -- and she never even gets up! Still snoozin' away. And we get lightening and thunder and heavy rain.

FIRST TIME EVER! My counter conditioning methods are absolutely working! All that hard work, patience, understanding, comfort, and science based counter conditioning is actually changing her mindset about how she feels about storms/thunder!!

If anyone doubts that it works, I will tell you it does!! Your dog does not have to live in fear/stress the rest of his/her life.
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Old 04-27-2019, 08:18 AM
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I joined this forum specifically looking for help with my dog's fear of fireworks, thunder and gunshots.
I adapted the method shown in the video when a thunderstorm occurred last week.
I had positive results.

The thunder storm occurred shortly after we got home from our evening walk-about. 90 minutes on leash with some off leash time in a wooded area. I fed my dog as usual and he was relaxing when the first lightning flash occurred.

I called my dog with "Check in." That's our cue to look at me and come. The thunder boom arrived while he was moving and he got nervous, but I repeated our cue, got his attention back and offered a treat. I held the treat in my finger tips rather firmly so he had to nibble it and not simply gobble it. There was then a lull that I took advantage of by having him sit, and I got more mentally prepared for the next lightning flash and thunder roll.

It went pretty well and we did this for about 20 minutes.

I'll let you all know how our practice proceeds. The 4th of July is coming and I'm hoping we have a calmer month than last year.

Last edited by Frank_Further; 04-27-2019 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 04-27-2019, 11:31 AM
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The fears of sounds and storms can be genetic or from past abuse but trust me dogs and animals can sense the barometric pressure changes before any storms come well in advance.
I get vestibular migraines, which means I don't usually get awful headaches but I get very dizzy and driving, functioning, working or even walking sometimes can be very difficult. There's no good medication that stops them since it's not something a painkiller effects.

My doctor is amazing and does research on these migraines and vestibular issues in general. Luckily I take a preventative medication daily which enables me to function. However any kind of storm is a huge trigger for my migraines. I can tell the day before a storm when we're getting them. I basically can't function.

Interestingly my dog is very sensitive to many sounds. If I cough or a cat jumps on the bed or people yell or make noise on my building he jumps a foot in the air. Any sounds by my door he goes crazy barking, anyone yelling or acting threatening he acts like hell kill.

Thunderstorms and fireworks? No problem. I'm watching two other dogs this weekend and we were at the dog park last night. I realized why I'd been feeling lousy all day when suddenly we got caught in a huge lightning storm. Dog was fine.

I take him right to the local right ER to watch the fireworks every 4th of July. We're in a huge crowd and the fireworks are loud and nearby. He sleeps at my feet after watching the first few and checking the area for other dogs to meet and play with. Could care less.

But he'll jump a foot in the air then sigh dramatically and cover his face with his paws lol if my phone goes off when he's sleeping, or a cat jumps up, or some minor noise. Yet sleeps soundly through half an hour of fireworks! Lol
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Old 04-27-2019, 12:13 PM
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It is weird/interesting how dogs respond to different sounds. When Frank and I were new to each other he would startle if I scraped my foot on a leaf or a small branch or a pile of gravel. Shifting my position on the couch would worry him, too.

We do a fair amount of walking and I'm improving my ability to see what's going on for him as far his mood, energy and willingness to focus with me. I'm paying more attention to weather forecasts and looking for changes in him as different pressure systems move across the Great Lakes area.

There's nothing tangibly scientific about my observations, but he did seem a bit off yesterday with less focus and walking tighter than normal on his end of the leash. Nice sunny spring day, but there was a well publicized forecast of an approaching late winter storm for today.

I looked into https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestibular_system. Interesting stuff.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:17 AM
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Hide ans Seek

Buddy usually starts panting & dribbling then disappears to the back bedroom when there are fireworks.
I'll go follow him & give him a pat & a cuddle, then leave him until he comes out when the noise eventually stops.
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