10-09-2018, 05:53 PM
Join Date: Nov 2014
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Counterconditioning can definitely help your dog with rain and thunder!
Here is one of my prior posts that I wrote about rain/thunder. You most certainly can change the way your dog feels about rain if you do what I do!! !In fact, yesterday it rained/thundered and Gracie had such a mild reaction to the thunder...such a difference than before when she would have absolutely gone in panic mode.
Ahhh watching your beloved dog being so stressed by thunderstorms is so painful. And can be very dangerous for some dogs. One of my dogs, Gracie, came to us terrified of rain and thunder. (And basically the rest of her world)
Gracie was so terrified she wouldn't even go outside to potty the day after a rain!!
Now most times she will happily walk 45 minutes in the rain (no, not thunder, that would be cruel in my mind as I don't love thunder myself)
We are pretty sure Gracie was left outside on a tie out and also punished with hose water so she was afraid of most all sources of water including taking a drink outside!
Vet meds didn't work for her--in fact they heightened her and made her more anxious. We had to put Gracie through heart worm treatment as soon as we rescued her, so no bond yet, super fearful dog, and it was continual huge storm season here that entire month... and I was so afraid she would die from a blod clot from her elevated fear/heart rate!!
So I started counter-conditioning her to all water, rain, and thunder.
Basically I am changing her mindset about how she feels about rain and thunder so that she will be way less stressed and can calm herself.
Here's some of what I do with my sweet Gracie that has really helped her:
1) "Rain snacks" treasure hunt- I toss tons of really small yummy food bites out on our patio every time it rains. Using her nose to find treats is a great distraction from the rain. (No thunder)
2)I would take her to our backyard on leash to potty in rain (not thunder) and have amazing food bites as we walked to different parts of yard til she did her business. (I could not stand the thought of her having to hold it til rain ended)
3)During storms- I would sit with her on leash with a door open and let her hear the sounds from the safety of inside our house. All with super high value food bites. Varying proximity to door depending how she was feeling.
4) I would walk her outside BEFORE a storm so she could feel and hear the winds and barometric pressure changes. Again, I would give her yummy food bites to counter condition her brain.
5)I would take her super fun (for her) places like hardware stores or pet stores on rainy days as a treat to ensure her that really GREAT things happen when it storms!
6) The big one--- every time it thunders she gets thunder snacks a plenty!
Even at 3 in the morning if needed! Heck I figure she would keep us all up night anyway with her panting and pacing so I may as well get my butt up, go to the kitchen and start our counter conditioning process, right?? But mostly it was breaking my heat to see her so frightened and stressed.
So here it goes: As soon as she would wake us up to tell us the storm was coming (she's a blue heeler!) then I go to kitchen and pull out the stinky canned dog food. I always have some on hand for surprise thunder days! Trick is to put thin layer in tupperware and let her LICK it. She will not CHEW anything initially when freaked out. Repeat this several times. If she won't lick it, then I make small balls of it and toss it in her mouth when she is panting. Sounds odd, but it really works. Soon she is like...hmmm this is tasty ...what else do you have for me to eat?
So then I baby gate her in my bedroom and I go back to kitchen several times for different yummy foods and let her see that thunder brings delicious food!! After a few rounds of this she is full bellied and will put herself back to bedThink of how you just want to crash out after going to a big food buffet
7) I also provide a small space in corner of our bedroom (and sometimes put my robe down there for her) so she has her own little safety "cave"' to go to. She wants to go to our bathrooms but personally I don't like this bc of the cat litter boxes there... so I keep her in our bedroom with us. Also I can watch her there and see when she falls asleep. If your bathroom is ok, many dogs prefer to go there to hide during storms.
8)If she can do her many tricks, we do them together. I ask her to bark at the thunder to empower her. (when she is scared she cannot use her voice --even though she knows tons of voice work)
9) "Magic Rain Chair" We initially put a patio chair in middle of yard and magically it would have tons of high value food when it was raining. Rain= treats.
10) Finally, I tell her how much we LOOOOVE rain as it is good for the grass, the trees, etc. Literally I tell her this ---and how brave and smart she is!
Does she love thunder? No, but at least I am not afraid that she will jump out a window or worse. And she can self calm so much easier. And I can get her to my car to go to work with me now if it is pouring out. Huge difference from when we got her.
Sorry so long---but I really hope this helps you and your dog.
Last edited by AthenaLove; 10-09-2018 at 06:01 PM.