You can’t reinforce fear, but you can help take it away
Is your dog afraid of lightning and thunder?
People have advised pet guardians to ignore their dogs when they fear. Dog owners are told that paying more attention to their dogs will only make them more afraid in the future. This is absurd. You won’t increase your dog’s fear if you calmly and calmly engage with him.
Imagine you are in a minor accident. It is not severe, but it has shaken your confidence. Your friend wraps her arm around you and assures you everything will be fine. Are you going to be more afraid of cars? Not. However, it might help to lower anxiety and make you feel better. You cannot reinforce an emotion!
Recently, we experienced thunder and heavy rain. Thunder is not something Jambo likes. This is evident in his body language when he eats his breakfast. His ears are retracted, and his tail is down. He was calm enough to eat and then to rest in his beloved ‘puppy bed’ under the kitchen breakfast bars – This was where the bed was initially placed as a puppy so that he could lie down underneath me while I worked on my laptop.
Jambo’s fear of fireworks, thunder, and other loud noises has been a problem for me, and I have done my best to help him. Some strategies I use are continuous, while others only become effective when fear-provoking stimuli are present.
These are some strategies that you can use to cope the best dog trainers in Charlottsville, Virgina are here to help. They could also be helpful for your pet or other pets.
- All exterior doors, windows, and shutters must be closed.
- Turn on the lights to help you block lightning from getting through the curtains.
- Relaxing classical music is a good choice, and you can also choose soft rock or reggae.
- You can reduce the effects of habituation by changing the music you listen to. (Bowman and Dowell (2017).
- Turn on the extractor fan to create ‘white noise that blocks out thunder.
- Apply calming lavender oil to a bandana and tie it around your dog’s neck.
- Spray your dog’s mattress using Pet Remedy Pet Calming spray or something similar.
- Connect a Pet Remedies diffuser. Another good option is Adaptil.
- You should ensure that the dog’s crate, which is located in a safe place away from doors
and windows exterior, is always available.
- Place a delicious stuffed Kong in the dog crate with peanut butter or the dog’s favorite food.
- Calmex for dogs tablets can be given if necessary. Calmex for Dogs is a supplement that helps dogs to manage stress and anxiety. Other options include Zylkene or Nutracalm. *Please consult your veterinarian before you give any medication or supplements.Apply a Thundershirt to your dog. This should be done before the dog can express an emotional response.
- Apply body wraps. This program teaches you how to use body wraps, and it consists of three parts covering the knowledge and skills needed to use sensory techniques as body wraps successfully.
Relaxed Jambo, without fear, anxiety, or stress
My arms are always open to a cuddle or a hug; my hands are rubbed with Bitch Balm (a lavender-based balm for horses and dogs), and my soothing voice is used to soothe. These management strategies can be implemented once the storm has passed and fear has set in. However, I also created a behavioral change program to help Jambo overcome his fearful emotional reaction. Jambo used to shake uncontrollably, run away and hide when there was thunder. Jambo would have refused to eat his breakfast and would not have been able to rest in bed.
I use classical conditioning (counter conditioning) and desensitization to help elicit a positive response to things Jambo is frightened of. His favorite peanut butter or roast chicken has been paired with the sounds of thunder, fireworks, and gunshots.
All the above steps are taken, and Jambo can relax by receiving my love and attention. Eileen and dogs has a post that contains some tips and tricks for dealing with fear.
A certified behaviorist can implement an individualized behavioral program for dogs showing signs of anxiety, fear, or stress. A consultation with the dog’s veterinarian is also recommended, and the behaviorist may recommend anti-anxiety medication. If you are having any of these issues please schedule an appointment with the best dog trainers in Charlottsville, Virgina.