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Hi, my name is Matt. About a year ago we saved a dog from the hands of an abusive family and brought him into our home. While he was a healthy dog, and was well trained, Buddy; our 10 year old Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with a bad case of Separation Anxiety. For the first few months he didn't trust us, and optioned to lay in a cage where he would sleep.

Then one day he came over to me, and nudged my hand, I called to my mother who promptly ran out of the back room to see the miraculous event. Buddy had begun trusting us, and over those next few months we had great fun with him. One night however, there was a thunderstorm and we saw a different side of him. First he began to whine and shiver, and before we knew it he was at the door clawing away at it, as if his life depended on it. We stopped the mindless destruction of our door and tried our best to calm him down.

Since that night Buddy has become very well behaved during Thunderstorms...at least, when we are present. If we leave him alone and a thunderstorm strikes we know that when we return home we will find our door a little more destroyed. We received some medication from the vet that was suppose to calm him down, but we've had to use it so frequently that I believe he is becoming immune to it. Months and months of time in the house has left a large whole near our Garage door where he keeps attempting escape the home and go find us. He even got out one day and ran off.

Our most recent episode almost left a hole in my mothers bedroom door as well. I know its my mother he's trying to protect, but I don't know how to help him get over this extreme phobia, and his over-protectiveness of my mother. Its becoming expensive to keep him as we replace doors, parts of walls, and lots of trim.

We love our dog, but don't know what to do to help him. Away from the thunderstorms he is the best dog we have ever had, but even hear the slightest boom in the distance and he turns into another dog.

Has anyone else here had success in stopping such behaviors in their dog? and if you have, could you please share the secrets to your success! I love my dog, and I don't want to see him hurt himself with his frantic clawing, get run over by a vehicle after escaping, or kill himself by chewing through electrical wires.

-Matt
 

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your boy needs a behaviorist. badly.

a behaviorist isn't like a trainer...they may recommend meds, lifestyle changes, diet changes, as well as a training regiment.

its going to be an investment...but the right person should be able to help.
 

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Hi, my name is Matt. About a year ago we saved a dog from the hands of an abusive family and brought him into our home. While he was a healthy dog, and was well trained, Buddy; our 10 year old Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with a bad case of Separation Anxiety. For the first few months he didn't trust us, and optioned to lay in a cage where he would sleep.

Then one day he came over to me, and nudged my hand, I called to my mother who promptly ran out of the back room to see the miraculous event. Buddy had begun trusting us, and over those next few months we had great fun with him. One night however, there was a thunderstorm and we saw a different side of him. First he began to whine and shiver, and before we knew it he was at the door clawing away at it, as if his life depended on it. We stopped the mindless destruction of our door and tried our best to calm him down.

Since that night Buddy has become very well behaved during Thunderstorms...at least, when we are present. If we leave him alone and a thunderstorm strikes we know that when we return home we will find our door a little more destroyed. We received some medication from the vet that was suppose to calm him down, but we've had to use it so frequently that I believe he is becoming immune to it. Months and months of time in the house has left a large whole near our Garage door where he keeps attempting escape the home and go find us. He even got out one day and ran off.

Our most recent episode almost left a hole in my mothers bedroom door as well. I know its my mother he's trying to protect, but I don't know how to help him get over this extreme phobia, and his over-protectiveness of my mother. Its becoming expensive to keep him as we replace doors, parts of walls, and lots of trim.

We love our dog, but don't know what to do to help him. Away from the thunderstorms he is the best dog we have ever had, but even hear the slightest boom in the distance and he turns into another dog.

Has anyone else here had success in stopping such behaviors in their dog? and if you have, could you please share the secrets to your success! I love my dog, and I don't want to see him hurt himself with his frantic clawing, get run over by a vehicle after escaping, or kill himself by chewing through electrical wires.

-Matt
Does your dog become frantic and try to get out of your house in GOOD weather when no one is home too ... or is this ONLY a problem during thunderstorms?
 

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Only during thunderstorms.
If that is the case, the person that diagnosed your dog with "a bad case of Separation Anxiety" couldn't be more wrong.

Separation Anxiety would manifest itself ALL of the time.

You ARE DEALING with fear based issues. As zimandtakandgrrandmimi says, your dog needs a behaviorist. It will take a behaviorist to observe the dog and then he/she will be able to give you a plan to rehabilitate your dog.

You may want to read up on training a fearful dog too. That way you will understand the fear from the dog's point of view.
 

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Just a bit of an update, during our latest thunderstorm, I wrestled him for over an hour as he tried to go to the doors he is famous for destroying, and as of this minute, the thunderstorm is still going on, and he is laying down and listening to our commands. I feel like this was a crucial battle in getting my dog to obey me, and wrestling him, as much as I hated to do, has made him aware of who his master is, what his territory consists of, and how he should behave during a thunderstorm.

I'm going to exhibit these same tactics next time, and hopefully with a little luck, we can rid him of this problem. I simply had to come back and update you on this monumental day, I can't wait to see what fruit grows on this tree.
 

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You don't want to behave like that around him if he's afraid of a thunderstorm, that's not nice...as the leader it is up to you to protect him from what he's afraid of, not force him to confront it.

Try a storm defender cape, someone on the forum uses it with her storm terrified dog, and her dog is getting tons better!
 

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Just a bit of an update, during our latest thunderstorm, I wrestled him for over an hour as he tried to go to the doors he is famous for destroying, and as of this minute, the thunderstorm is still going on, and he is laying down and listening to our commands. I feel like this was a crucial battle in getting my dog to obey me, and wrestling him, as much as I hated to do, has made him aware of who his master is, what his territory consists of, and how he should behave during a thunderstorm.

I'm going to exhibit these same tactics next time, and hopefully with a little luck, we can rid him of this problem. I simply had to come back and update you on this monumental day, I can't wait to see what fruit grows on this tree.

You're causing your dog to shut down. The reason he is obeying you is because he sees no other option, no matter how scared or insecure he might be. It's called learned helplessness. It's NOT what you should be doing. Because even if you are producing superficial results, your dog is still ACHING inside.

I am going to start a Melatonin regimen, 3 mg a day, for my dog's noise issues. If you'd like, I can let you know if it helps her any. She is somewhat afraid of thunderstorms, but I'm mostly using it for other things.

A drug plan wouldn't sound like a bad idea for your dog along with diligent counterconditioning. Speak with your vet.
 

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The idea behind it was to get him to stop the destructive behavior, not to make him confront the fear. I don't care if he has a phobia of thunderstorms, I have a heavy phobia of bumble bees and I act similarly around them, so I can understand, but I cant have him destroying my home, and I believe, although he was still scared and hung by our side, he wasn't destroying anything, he was behaving, and the ultimate goal is to get him to do this same thing when we are not home, regardless of how scared he is.
 

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So, would you like it if someone made you stand next to a bee hive and didn't comfort you but forced you to stay next to it, actually wrestled you to stay next to it? I think not.
 

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But to stop the negative behavior, you have to get to the root of the fear. That's my point.

Wrestling him until he gives up causes the dog to shut down.

Understanding what your dog is afraid of and just how afraid it is, is key to beginning the process of helping your dog get over its fears. Remember, until your dog stops feeling bad, or afraid, it won’t be able to start feeling good, or unafraid. If your dog must continually deal with things that scare it, its behavior may get worse. You never want your dog to think that the only way it can protect itself is by snapping or biting.
http://fearfuldogs.com/triggers.html

My dog is afraid of thunderstorms too. Granted, she's not destroying my house, but fear is fear and all fear needs to be treated the same way. When he is that frantic, your dog is over threshold and no amount of positive or negative reinforcement can help him. What you should be doing is divising a plan, perhaps with your vet or maybe a behaviorist, to get your dog to a point where you can battle his fear below threshold. That might be through using medicines, like Xanax or Valium, or alternative methods like Rescue Remedy or Melatonin, in conjunction with good ol' fashioned counterconditioning. By wrestling your dog to the point that he "obeys his master" you are, in effect, f'ing up his psyche, and may lead him to be more nervous. That fear can generalize to other situations as well.

We have a thunderstorm right now, and in between typing I am offering my dog little bits of cheese. I just gave her 1.5 mg of Melatonin. She is somewhat relaxed, able to lay outside of her hiding spot (the desk). I am working to pair the scary sound of thunder with the yumminess of the cheese. Sure it takes a while, and the Melatonin is helping to keep her under threshold (hope it's working), but in the end I hope to have a confident dog who is manageable around loud noises, not a shut down one who simply doesn't respond because she's terrified to do so.

Its not like helping irrationally fearful dogs is a cut and dried area.
Sure it is. Well, it should be, anyway. The same learning laws govern all of us, whether it's a person afraid of bees, a cat afraid of people, a dog learning that making eye contact with his handler is rewarding and results in a treat. Classical and operant conditioning, that's it. That's all there is to it. To extinguish or diminish fear, the association must be changed. Whether that's clicking/treating a dog for looking calmly at a stranger or offering the dog a treat immediately following a crash of thunder, the association must be changed (classical conditioning) in the case of extreme, irrational fears. Sure you might see results if you do it differently, by flooding the dog with what scares it, but you run the risk of your dog being pushed way over it's limit and resorting to biting and snapping to ward off the scary stimulus, you run the risk of heightening the fear as the dog gets more unnecessary exposure when it's terrified, you run the risk of having the dog shut down and lose confidence in you and in himself. I think I know what methods sound better to me.

Sorry I keep editing this.. this happens to be a subject I am very passionate about
 

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I'm not saying everybody should go wrestle their dog, but if it works for this person and that dog, then go with it.
That's kind of a dangerous viewpoint to hold. Sure things differ from dog to dog, owner to owner - but similarly just because something 'works' in the sense that it produces a result, doesn't mean it's the best method. Slapping a dog every time he barks will effectively solve your 'barking problem' but it also creates a lot of other issues. And ultimately slapping a dog is not acceptable.

Extreme example, yes...but my point is, the situation isn't all about what works. It's finding the BEST method, the one that isn't going to later come back and bite you on the butt. And especially with fear issues, it's more about getting the dog over them (or at least better tolerant) then simply enduring in silence.
 

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Why not keep him in his crate, and cover the crate with a blanket? He can't destroy stuff in there...
 

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Some dogs can break out of crates, chew through them, etc...

Like I said, try the storm defender cape, people have wonderful results.
 

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While I believe that dealing with the thunderstorm fear as suggested (training etc.) is the best thing to do, I can also say that not every dog will respond to it.

My last dog was never afarid of thunder until the day the lightning rod bled off a leader in the barn and we all got shocked. Nothing worked after that. I had a crate in the basement and the dog was put there during storms or during weather that threatened to be storm laden when I was not home.

Yes.. some dogs will break out of crates. Personally, I would try the crate and a dark, calm, place and then IGNORE the dog. Yup. Don't play into it. Don't console or comfort. Playing into it can make it worse.

Meanwhile, try to get the dog to associate storms and food etc. A stuffed Kong can work wonders.. but some dogs are too fearful to take food. If that does not work, (and I have to tell you that for every dog it does work there is another dog where it does not), then you may have to crate the dog any time there is a storm or threat of storms.

If he crate breaks you may need to move up to a dog box and/or up the medications.
 

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The medications have made him worse, so I don't believe I'll be trying those again, and when I say "wrestle" dont believe I pinned him to the floor, I merely pushed him away from areas I didn't want him in during the storm, and confined him to the hall, after which he layed down, and although afraid, he wasn't moving. For 2 hours we ignored him during the storm (an amazing) feat, but watched him sit, on his own will, in the hall listening but confronting the fear in a different way.
 

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The idea behind it was to get him to stop the destructive behavior, not to make him confront the fear. I don't care if he has a phobia of thunderstorms, I have a heavy phobia of bumble bees and I act similarly around them, so I can understand, but I cant have him destroying my home, and I believe, although he was still scared and hung by our side, he wasn't destroying anything, he was behaving, and the ultimate goal is to get him to do this same thing when we are not home, regardless of how scared he is.

You don't want ot comfort the dog, but you also don't want to have him shut down as it could cause an escalation in the behavior INCLUDING biting you to defend himself. Dogs who come out of a shutdown state often do so VIOLENTLY causing the death of the dog.

Your best bet is to crate the dog where he can't destroy things during a thunderstorm. Be sure your crate is VERY sturdy and constructed so he can't get hurt (I suggest an airline crate). Make it his 'safe' place by getting him used to it and giving it a positive association. it will be come his den and a place where he knows he can't be hurt by the storm.

I'd also suggest a the storm cape OR an anxiety wrap as well as melatonin, which has excellent results on dogs with fear of Thunderstorms and fireworks. YOU can do the anxiety wrap yourself if you can't afford to buy one. Here is the TTouch method of wrapping a dog http://www.crvetcenter.com/bodywrap.htm , you can use an ace bandage that's 4-6 inches wide (smaller if it's a small dog). My mother had very good succes with her storm fearful Rottweiler (she lived in the deep south, famous for violent storms on a nearly daily basis in the spring and summer) using these methods.

http://www.ohmydogsupplies.com/news/xnews.php?printerfriendly=Y&newsid=160
http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/melatonin.htm
http://www.barkleyandpaws.com/Dogs/Health/Natural_dog_cures:_Two_all_natural_supplements_used_to_combat_stress_and_fleas_20071022321/


Mango said
If I read this correctly OP has done something to get the dog from stopping destructive behavior (and leaving an obsession, the door, behind) and instead focus enough to follow commands during the thunderstorm. It sounds like progress to me. I'm a little surprised to see people being so dismissive. Its not like helping irrationally fearful dogs is a cut and dried area.

I'm not saying everybody should go wrestle their dog, but if it works for this person and that dog, then go with it.
It causes shut down and can cause a violent reaction. No, wrestling a dog down is NEVER the answer. I understand the OP was desparate to keep her dog from destroying things, but it's NOT a solution, just a temporary fix that could result in worse happening in the future.
 

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Ludo is afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks when outside of his crate. When either occurs - he goes in his crate (I put him in there). Not a peep is heard from him as he calmly chews on his toys or eats his meals until the event is over.

Perhaps a crate (a good, sturdy, metal one?) would help your dog. It has done wonders for Ludo.
 

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Well, that's your opinion and you're entitled to it. However, most of the people here have given VERY sound advice. Something you don't seem to be contributing to, instead you're attacking them with no alternatives of your own.

The crate is PART of the solution, IF you would read the advice given, it's not the entire solution. Crates can give fearful dogs a retreat, their own 'space' where they feel safe and comfortable.

Shutting down is not progress, it will result in worse problems down the road.
 
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