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So, I guess this will be the make or break post for me.

Part of me is ashamed to say two of my three live outside. The other part of me knows I do the best I can for my dogs, and I know plenty of indoor dogs who live worse lives.

But I do need help.

A little bit about our Daily routine:
At around 9 or 10 in the morning, we go for an hour long walk. They were playing for about 15-20 minutes before this walk, and about an hour after but they've stopped, so I don't waste my time anymore. On this walk they have the change to sniff and watch, we stop by a small creek and get a drink on our way back.
Throughout the day at random times and depending on the weather and if I have to run errands, we will go for swims or hikes, or play in the hose. I've taken now to put them on "lunge lines" and letting them run on the hill next to my home.
In the evening around 5 or 6, we go for another walk which, again, lasts about an hour. They DO play for a short time before this and after it. I let them play until they drop, usually, then if I notice they have some energy left over, I'll 'lunge' them again.
Then at night, before we all fall asleep, I go and sit with them for a while, brush them or whatever. Silly as it sounds, I sing to them or read to them.
They have toys out there, thing to chew, things that make noise.


For the past 5 years, Aleu has been fine with noises and rain and storms, etc etc.
Back in, March I believe it was, she started getting very anxious anytime the rain would start. She has never had a bad experience with rain or storms, so I don't understand where this is coming from.
Last summer she became afraid of Fireworks. Diesel has always been afraid of them, but she didn't show any signs of anxiety until last summer.

We had a bad tornado scare in March and we have nowhere to go when these come through. We also don't have a basement. It was serious and for our direct area we kept hearing 'take immediate shelter, get to a safe place as quick as possible.' all I could do was cover the windows pile into the tub with Diesel and Aleu and pray. The house was chaotic with 3 frightened/excited dogs, 2 frightened rats and a cat in a panic. But it passed and we all survived.
Then Aleu's problems started.
A couple weeks after that, we had another storm and at about 3 a/m I had a very odd dream which woke me up. Having this terrible feeling, I walked outside and Aleu was nowhere to be found. I ended up running barefoot in my gown through a storm in the dark at 3 a.m hoping to find her. Thankfully I did. I brought her in and washed the muck off her and went to sleep. She remained inside for the next few days while the storms finished off.
That was not the last time she managed to run free during ANY sort of rain, and I'm afraid it won't be the last.
It has hit the point now where every time it starts to barely even sprinkle, if she begins to pant, I just bring her in and wade through the shit storm that awaits me inside.
You see, my mother is very sick and, once again, is facing breast cancer. She will have none of Aleu or Diesel coming inside. Every time I bring Aleu in, there's a new fight that does not stop until hours after she's been put back out the next day. I push through it the best I can but it's stressing her out and disrupting the home. A lot.

I cannot keep bringing her inside every time a hint of rain washes through. I've also tried sitting with her to calm her, but quite frankly, I can't fit in the dog house with her and have no desire to sit out in the pounding rain.
She does have shelter, and her doghouse isn't leaky or anything else.


So, what I'm asking is, is there anything I can do, aside from medication, to help her no be so scared? I hate seeing her so afraid, and I know she is.
Aside from that, I'm so paranoid now that I think I hear thunder while I'm showering or about to fall asleep or cooking and panic, but it'll just be a car starting up or something. I can't leave my house to go shopping or out or even to the post office if there's any HINT of a shower, even a shower whether the weather calls for thunder or not. I have to start looking for a job soon, and I certainly can't be calling in every time it rains.
The weather controls my dog and my dog controls me. It's getting to be too much.

~~
To add, a couple of times it's rained and she's actually slept right through it. Once I accidentally woke her up and she just yawned, decided to have a small freak out, then go back to sleep.
She is still afraid once she's inside, with pacing and panting when the thunder/lightening actually rolls through.

Please do not tell me to bring my dog inside to live or re-home her. Options that have been exhausted.
 

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What is her shelter like?
Is she kenneled (chain link style) with a dog house?

Could she wear a Thundershirt or AnxietyWrap when the weather is forecasted as bad?
Would you consider herbal calming remedies like those with Valerian Root?

It sounds like you are spending a fair amount of time with them, that is good. I don't see them as being neglected and even inside dogs can have severe fears of storms. It does sound like her containment and shelter is not sufficient for the circumstances though.

A good friend had "outside" dogs for years before she sold her horse farm. Those dogs are now inside dogs but until they moved inside, they were well cared for and well sheltered because they lived in a horse barn. One of them has a fear of storms. But in the barn, she was okay (still scared, but able to huddle in blankets and be ok) since there was a real wood roof and walls and the gates were secure (regular stall gates for TBs) and the floor concrete (no digging) with a rubber stall mat on top. I'm not saying you need to build a barn for them, but maybe consider some of the potential options for a very sturdy shelter that will both protect and contain.

Edit to add- if you're talking about the tornados I think you are talking about.... those were enough to scare the living daylight out of anyone. I'm glad everyone was physically okay at your place.
 

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I have a guy who is afraid of storms & gets nervous when it rains, he sticks close to me & never wants to leave my side, if FA thundering really bad (they accompany me to the barn when I head for work) I'll put him in a horse stall if it gets really bad (don't want to chance him running off) if it's break time & the weather is bad, he comes inside in his crate.

My dogs are outside during the day unless I have to go somewhere, & they come in at nite, how about getting a special pen (they sell some good ones at some wal-marts, & home depot also TSC but they are a tad more expensive there) that you can put her in with her dog house & she wouldnt be able to escape ( if she is jumping out you might need to get a cover for it) if she is digging you might need to line the bottom with chicken wire).

Is there any reason your mother doesnt want them inside? What about if you guys made a truce & designated a 'dog room' for tr dogs ONLY when it's going to be bad weather? & a crate (If she is used to it), are they had in the house or something?
 

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First off--don't be ashamed because your dogs live outside. Its sounds like you take very good care of them! I have 6 outside dogs myself (huskies that HATE being inside except for once and a while to take up the couch for an hour or so). :)

My Aussie/mix hates thunderstorms, always has (she's and inside dog). She will pant, pace, and try to crawl inside your pocket if it even smells like a thunderstorm (she has proven to be more reliable in predicting storms than the weatherman himself! lol). Either my mom or I will sit with her during the storm and until she calms down. So I guess we're in the same boat...I haven't tried the Thundershirt or Valerian root yet...I may have to do that this summer. I've heard good things about both. :)

Could you possible put a radio out where Aleu is at? That helped my friend's dog who is also afraid of thunderstorms. They usually lock their dog in the bathroom and turn the radio up when there is a bad storm but maybe just hearing the human voices might help Aleu?
 

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Thundershirt and Melatonin. It is better to give a drug (even if it is natural), and have them be calmer rather than terrified. If you let them stay terrified, the fear keeps getting reinforced, and it gets worse. You give 1 mg of Melatonin per 20 lbs of body weight. Be aware that the tablets come in both 1 mg and 3 mg strength. Do not exceed 6 mg even for giant breeds.

It worries me that you don't have a safe place to go during tornados. Do you have any neighbors with a basement that you could go to? Can you get a square dumpster and have it buried sideways in your yard so you can go in there during a tornado? Do you have any small bridges that have the round cement cylinders (that are below ground level) that the road goes over that you could go under for a tornado?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the responses guys.

What is her shelter like?
Is she kenneled (chain link style) with a dog house?
Kennel, I don't know the measurements exactly but I know it's 6 or 7 feet high. We keep tarps across the top and partially down one side to cast shade.
Her dog house is plastic with a flat top (purposely pushed down for her so she can lay on the top if she likes) and large enough inside for her to be able to completely stand up and turn and stretch out without any trouble.

Could she wear a Thundershirt or AnxietyWrap when the weather is forecasted as bad?
I did consider a Thundershirt for her, but where it was as-seen-on-TV I'm not sure whether or not it would actually work. But it sounds like it would.

Would you consider herbal calming remedies like those with Valerian Root?
Of course. It would just be a matter of getting hold of it.

Edit to add- if you're talking about the tornados I think you are talking about.... those were enough to scare the living daylight out of anyone. I'm glad everyone was physically okay at your place.
This was the one that tore up West Liberty. I feel horrible for all those who were affected by them.

~~~~~~

My dogs are outside during the day unless I have to go somewhere, & they come in at nite, how about getting a special pen (they sell some good ones at some wal-marts, & home depot also TSC but they are a tad more expensive there) that you can put her in with her dog house & she wouldnt be able to escape ( if she is jumping out you might need to get a cover for it) if she is digging you might need to line the bottom with chicken wire).
She's in a chain link kennel now, we have tarps over it. (i should have mentioned all this, sorry D: )
We have mining belts under it to stop the digging from both sides, and we have chicken wire strung across the top and fastened down under the tarps. She chews through chicken wire like it's nothing, even though I've layered it at least 3 times. .-.

Is there any reason your mother doesnt want them inside? What about if you guys made a truce & designated a 'dog room' for tr dogs ONLY when it's going to be bad weather? & a crate (If she is used to it), are they had in the house or something?
She's definitely not a reasonable person. To her, anything larger than a toy poodle is considered a "big dog" and "belongs outside". I used to think that way too, but now- what I'd give to be able to have them come live inside with me.
Diesel isn't house trained and will take to lifting his leg everywhere, and that is a wwhhoollleee lotta wizz. He actually hates it inside too and would much rather be outside where he can roll in dirt and watch. He loves dirt >_>
Aleu on the other hand... I don't quite understand why she's not allowed in. She's very well housetrained, she's clean, she isn't destructive, she's actually found some sort of truce with my rats and cat and can now stand right beside them without going into 'GOTTA EAT' mode. I believe it's because of her hair, and her talking. She can't pass a body without stopping to say something. And when she is inside, she's in my room, as we only have 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

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Could you possible put a radio out where Aleu is at? That helped my friend's dog who is also afraid of thunderstorms. They usually lock their dog in the bathroom and turn the radio up when there is a bad storm but maybe just hearing the human voices might help Aleu?
I have considered this... Maybe I'll look further into it. It can't hurt.

~~~~~~

Thundershirt and Melatonin. It is better to give a drug (even if it is natural), and have them be calmer rather than terrified. If you let them stay terrified, the fear keeps getting reinforced, and it gets worse. You give 1 mg of Melatonin per 20 lbs of body weight. Be aware that the tablets come in both 1 mg and 3 mg strength. Do not exceed 6 mg even for giant breeds.
Is this something (Melatonin) that can be ordered online or must be purchased through a vet?
And another thundershirt recommendation. I'm starting to think more highly of it now.

Do you have any neighbors with a basement that you could go to? Can you get a square dumpster and have it buried sideways in your yard so you can go in there during a tornado? Do you have any small bridges that have the round cement cylinders (that are below ground level) that the road goes over that you could go under for a tornado?
Unfortunately it's a 'no' to all those.
We have friends who have a very large basement, who live a couple miles away, but it seems like by the time we hear about the danger, we're told it's too late to go anywhere, so we wait it out.


~~~~~~~~~~

What I have tried is something like teaching her to associate an object with good. I let her choose a plushie to take back out with her and do whatever I can to associate that plushie (a moose) with good things. She actually took it from me once because I removed it from her to clean it. She likes her moose, but doesn't like it enough to ignore the weather. Diesel always has a bear or something that he likes to pack around whenever he gets nervous, like if there's a strange dog wandering around, or a stranger in the yard that I approve of but he doesn't. i thought maybe one could help her too but apparently not.

As Shell said, about her shelter not being sufficient for the circumstances... what never crossed my mind until now is the possibility of a wooden dog house. My father builds his own dog houses by hand, and they're always wooden and raised off the ground with tin around them. He offered to build me one years back, but I don't know if the offer still stands. Not that I don't know how to build one, but-
What's the possibility of a large, wooden dog house stuffed with soft cushy blankets and toys might help her feel safer?

It is a problem trying to keep her contained, but I hate seeing her afraid even more. I don't quite understand how this fear came about :\
 

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how wide and long is this kennel run cause a better reasonably priced roof would stop the going over and pretty easy to make and not that expensive.
 

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Thundershirt and Melatonin. It is better to give a drug (even if it is natural), and have them be calmer rather than terrified. If you let them stay terrified, the fear keeps getting reinforced, and it gets worse. You give 1 mg of Melatonin per 20 lbs of body weight. Be aware that the tablets come in both 1 mg and 3 mg strength. Do not exceed 6 mg even for giant breeds.

I didn't even think about malatonin, we used to give that to some of the nervous race horses we had to keep them from walking their stalls, we would give one pill dayly with their evening feed to them. Would you do the same for a dog? Give it in the evening dayly? Or just when it storms? I'm also going to look into a thundershirt,

It worries me that you don't have a safe place to go during tornados. Do you have any neighbors with a basement that you could go to? Can you get a square dumpster and have it buried sideways in your yard so you can go in there during a tornado? Do you have any small bridges that have the round cement cylinders (that are below ground level) that the road goes over that you could go under for a tornado?
Yikes! That's scary!! Glad everyone is ok
 

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A small wooden doghouse might not be enough; but if you could create a shed like structure and place her doghouse inside of it, it might help. Either one though would be an improvement though since tarps are very noisy in rain and wind and can make a storm sound worse than it is and what rain does reach a plastic doghouse basically echoes inside of it.

Depending on how big the kennel is, you could build something like a horse run-in shed (in type, just sized down) or a sturdy wooden doghouse. Just as examples (all hotlinked, might go bad)


And try to make it with an entry way to block rain and wind


Other ideas; some elaborate but might give you a design inspiration

 

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I am also having difficulty with Abbylynn and Bly Boy both and storms... Abbylynn being the worst. I have started giving a natural calming aid made by vet's best which has 25mg valerian root and 25mg hydroxytryptophan in it. It is called comfort calm and is about $7-$10 ( depending if it is on sale) for a bottle containing 30 chewable tablets. I give it after I see the daily weather report and know for sure a storm is likely. It helps to a degree ... at least the terrified stage.
 

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Discussion Starter #11

And try to make it with an entry way to block rain and wind
These were exactly what I was thinking.

If I ever get the money, I would love to be able to buy something like a barn and build a covered run onto it, and put some sort of heating and air inside the building for her (and Diesel). It would make me feel so much better.
 

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You can buy Melatonin at the grocery store/drug store in the "sleep aid" section. Non prescription. Doesn't make them dopey...they just don't care about the storms as much. You give the correct dose about 15 min before a storm or at the first sign of one.
 
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