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Thunder or rain fear? Change your dog's underlying emotion with counter conditioning

Here is a quick success moment with my Puma pup this week. This may help you guys to understand how helpful counter conditioning is when dealing with dog fears like thunder or rain, etc.

So....I took my Puma pup for the first time to a skilled nursing facility where my mom is in rehab for a broken neck (argggh, poor Mom!)

Puma did great inside, very polite gentle manners, very patient, greeted several people. Got asked a lot if she was a therapy dog which, of course, made me feel great!! All that hard work training with her is paying off... :)

Anyway, when we were done visiting inside, I took her outside as a treat for being so darn great inside. We walked the grounds, where she was not so amazing, honestly, because she was pulling me waaaayyyy too much as we were checking out the area. The facility is nestled in a woodsy ish area, full of exciting scents like deer, raccoons, etc. So she was overstimulated at all the scents, plus she hasn't had her regular walks bc of Mom's emergency medical stuff that has taken my full attention.

Ok, back to the main point here for this post topic.....

After our crazy pull-fest exploration walk (thanks, Puma!) I took Puma under the canopy of the front walkway of the facility to practice more "service dog" style manners and waited for folks to come in/out so we could practice greeting them if they wanted to say hi to Miss Puma.

Well....suddenly it started to rain....hard! Wind blowing like crazy! Puma started looking about, a bit "concerned".... but not panicy because we have practiced rain and thunder training/counter conditioning every chance we get.

I always work to change Puma's underlying emotion about how she feels about things, like storms and thunder.

I had watched the weather report in advance and was prepared in case it stormed. I had tons of small bites of ultra yummy food treats like chicken gizzards, livers, bbq chicken, and hot dogs in my treat pouch that I was wearing.

As soon as it started raining, I started giving Puma the treats as I talked to her calmly about the rain.

The result: In less than 3 minutes Puma had decided that the storm was no threat... and she plopped down on the sidewalk relaxed like she always does when we go out in public.

My message: Folks, counter conditioning WORKS wonders to help our dogs deal with storms, thunder, rain, etc!!
Please give it a try. Your dogs will love you for it.
 

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Chime in to echo Athena L on being prepared, I keep an eye on the weather myself.:thumbsup:

On the fire works side of this thread, I started working with Frank last fall and now again this spring by approaching roofers at work. The nail guns that roofers use sound similar to the report of a .22 caliber rifle or a bottle rocket. It's not exactly the same sonic sensation, but close enough to run thru counter conditioning trials. A nice feature of using roofers firing nail guns is that I know they are going to be there for a week or longer, so predictability... and I can also manage the distance. Frank probably hears the reports echo off cars and walls, too. We move around and experiment with locations and the acoustics.

In preparation for the Fourth of July, we've got a minor league baseball team that has a stadium approximately a half mile away. The Mallards have scheduled fireworks shows after games the first 3 Saturdays in June. So, we will prepare for the long evening of the 4th by preparing for the ten minute shows at the Duck Pond Stadium.

We're in Wisconsin so I think I'll have a bag of brats bits and cheese ready for the post game fire works. We'll start right here at the couch and if that goes well, move onto the balcony and then... fingers crossed... walk out of the building into the parking lot. June 7 will be our first trial.
 

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My dog is TERRIFIED of thunderstorms and fireworks especially thunder.. I don't think I can fix the problem with it either...
 

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Thunder last night: Gracie has almost "normal" response due to Counter Conditioning!!

My dog is TERRIFIED of thunderstorms and fireworks especially thunder.. I don't think I can fix the problem with it either...
Hi there,

You can certainly help your dog immensely with his/her fear of thunder and fireworks! Believe me, you can do it. My Gracie dog was so TERRIFIED of both and a zillion other things in her world. Seriously!

You can use counter conditioning to gradually change your dog's mindset about how she/he feels about thunder, etc. It takes time and patience and a genuine understanding of how your dog feels PLUS ULTRA yummy food... but it is so worth it.

Last night it thundered here:


As an example of my Gracie's huge progress, it thundered and rained at my house just last night around midnight. About 20-30 minutes before it started she acted a bit more loving or "clingy"(hate that word) and a bit unsettled. But only slightly.

Then about 10 minutes before it hit, we were all watching TV and she suddenly looked up at the ceiling. Then the thunder started. Gracie got up and went into the hallway. Then moments later she came back in the room and settled back in with us. And relaxed. She asked for her normal rubbies from us and we pet/massaged her. I gave all three of my beloved doggies some special thunder snacks (home cooked chicken livers and gizzards)as we did a few fun tricks to remind them that thunderstorms bring good things--fun tricks, yummy food, nice relaxing rubbies, happy times.

And that was basically it. NO panting, pacing, panicking, hiding in other rooms, hyperventilating, pawing at us frantically, running away from us, freaking out. None of this.

Much more "normal" behavior. Not at all like she used to be, when she was TERRIFIED.

And all because I continually dilligently counter conditioned her to EVERY SINGLE rain, storm, thunder...every time.

Does Gracie love thunder and rain now? Probably not, but at least she is way less stressed, and she can actually relax and hang out with us... and not be in complete panic mode.

Please try using counter conditioning to help your fearful pets---it really works.
 
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