determine the prevalence and characteristics of thunderstorm phobic dogs and assess differences
The good news is that there is a whole host of possible ways to deal with thunderstorm phobia. The bad news is that figuring out which one or ones may work for your dog is largely a matter of trial and error. In many cases, a combination of techniques may be necessary to achieve any significant change in behavior.
1. Be Available One of the most basic things you can do is try to be WITH your dog whenever storms are predicted or actually occur.
2. Change Your Dog’s Attitude and Perception The two techniques generally employed are called counter conditioning and desensitization – they are closely related and often used hand-in-hand. You may be familiar with them from other training situations with your current dog or previous dogs; they have wide application for any number of canine behavior challenges.
Some phobic dogs benefit from other complementary calming therapies such as T-touch, tightly fitted body wraps, Dog Appeasing Pheromone collars, spray or plug ins, and Bach Flower Essences, while others do much better on anti-anxiety medication that can be given just before a thunderstorm develops or a daily dosage, especially during storm season. It is vital that behavioral therapy and management are always given along with any medications in order to give the dog the best possible chance of rehabilitation.
Thunderstorm Phobias in Dogs | petMD
How to Cure Thunderstorm Phobia in Dogs - Mercola Healthy Pets
Dogs naturally try to escape the static charge by moving toward items that are electrically grounded. Many thunderstorm-phobic dogs seek shelter in the basement, around the toilet, shower, tub or near pipes. They also may try to hide or get underneath something. Favorite spots are often the bathtub (if made of porcelain coated cast iron) or the car.Anti-anxiety medications: While not every dog with thunderstorm anxiety is a good candidate for anti-anxiety medication or has a severe enough phobia to warrant prescription medication, the option is worth discussing with your veterinarian. Many studies have shown that when dogs suffering from storm phobia were medicated in conjunction with behavior modification or other therapy, the improvement was much more significant than with just medication alone.Bamberger and Houpt1 retrospectively examined factors associated with behavior diagnosis in dogs at Cornell University Hospital for Animals and reported that 2.3% of the 1644 cases evaluated presented with storm phobia. In addition, dogs with thunderstorm phobias are likely to also have separation anxiety. Overall and colleagues2 found associations between separation anxiety and thunderstorm and noise phobias in dogs.What was it all these places had in common? A former veterinary student, Morgan Long, V87, an electrical whiz, pointed out to me that all these locations were electrical grounds. A light bulb went off in my head and the “static electrical theory” of thunderstorm phobia was born. To test the theory, a Tufts pharmacologist, Louis Shuster, and I had some storm-phobic dogs brought to the Van de Graaff generator at Boston’s Museum of Science. Inside the Faraday cage, the dogs and I were exposed to hundreds of thousands of volts of static charge. All my hair stood on end, and I felt slightly Dr. Who-ish. The dogs appeared to experience the same kind of hair-raising sensation—but did not erupt in full-blown storm phobia.