Monday, August 3, 2009

Tips For Thunderstorms

A thunderstorm can be a nightmare for dogs that fear loud noises. Thunderstorms can strike with very little warning, at any time of day, and last for hours. The shock from a sudden clap of thunder can be devastating. So how can your fearful dog overcome his anxiety when the weather turns against you?

Here are some tips from Cesar Millan, Dog Whisperer:

Know the Signs - Fear can progress quickly to phobia, and once the problem has escalated, it may become significantly more difficult to rehabilitate. Some symptoms of general fear may include:

Uncontrollable urination
Moderate-to-severe shaking and shivering
Submissive posture (head down, ears lowered, tail tucked)
Pacing back and forth
Attempts to hide

Don't feel sorry! - When a small child is fearful, a soothing voice can reassure them that nothing in a loud sound can hurt them and that it will all be over soon. For a dog, a soothing voice is a reinforcement of his current behavior. By coddling your dog when it is frightened, you are saying that you approve of and encourage this fearful behavior. Instead, remain calm and assertive, and ignore the behavior as best you can.

Exercise! - The most crucial part of the fulfillment formula is also both the most versatile and the most often overlooked! Exercise drains your dog's energy and leaves him relaxed. As the pack leader, you should already have a rigorous walking routine established, but if you know that thunderstorms are common during certain approaching seasons, start upping the ante! A thoroughly engaging workout can leave even the most terrified dog too sleepy to concern himself with loud noises. Be sure to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog's exercise routine.

Make positive associations! - Thunder isn't inherently dangerous, but your dog doesn't know that. You can help him learn by associating the sound of thunder with positive experiences. Find a recording of thunder, and play it back for your dog in the background while engaging him in some enjoyable activity, like a game, receiving treats, or the walk. Begin at a low volume, and gradually increase it as you work. Be patient! This technique may take time and dedication to be successful.

Try ear-plugs! - While you are working with your dog to create positive associations, it may help to soften the effects of loud thunderstorms by using canine-safe earplugs to cut the decibel level. Consult your veterinarian for tips and brand recommendations before purchasing and using earplugs.

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