Behaviour - Terrified of Storms

by Judy Werner
(Cedar Hill, TX)

Teddy was around 2 when I rescued him; history totally unkown.

When he is anxious, especially thunderstorms, he will urinate on a wall, table, corner, cabinet, often returning to the same spot. I have tried every response: yelling, pulling him to where the puddle is (I do not hit or put his nose in it),praising when he pees outdoors, crating him (he tore his way out of the crate, ruining it) etc.

About 6 months ago (he is now 4), he started peeing on the carpet, then backing up about 2 feet and scraping his nose toward the puddle until his nose actually bleeds. It looks like a bizarre sun, with the yellow puddle in the middle and red, bloody "rays" surrounding it.

He is in weekly dog training 36 out of every 52 weeks and has passed CGC, CGCA, and TDI, and is now a registered therapy dog. He is sweet, quiet and smart, but this behavior is baffling, not to mention what it is doing to my home's interior. He has never peed in the car or our RV, nor has he peed in family homes when he visits. Thus, it seems directed at me and my loved one.

My vet says he is fine and suggested I try the internet, etc: all to no avail.

I am at wits end!

Any suggestions?

Thanks

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Oct 10, 2018
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Building his confidence
by: Donna

Your dog is terrified of storms and you are escalating his terror by punishing him for being terrified. His reaction to being terrified seems to be to urinate. What you need to do instead is to work on building his confidence.

He seems to want to cover up the urine.

Is he neutered?

You've obviously done a lot of good work with him.

I would highly recommend bringing in a positive-reinforcement trainer and/or a vet behaviourist to help you work with him and these behaviours.

You may also need to get him onto some anti-anxiety medication of some sort and do some training with him so that when there is a storm, you can work on getting him to do other things with you that will distract him from that which terrifies him.

Susan Garrett is a great trainer. Here is a video on how to work on distracting your dog from the fear. She also recommends some anti-anxiety products and other ways to help lower anxiety.

Copy and paste this url into your browser:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpMI4KRiJPI

Oct 11, 2018
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Neutered
by: Judy Werner

Yes, Teddy is neutered.

Oct 11, 2018
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Terrified
by: Donna

So, he's reacting to the storm. Poor man. He is trusting you to keep him safe so work with him. Watch the video I sent you on how to work with him.

Oct 11, 2018
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thanks for your reply
by: Judy Werner

I have watched the video and agree with the philosophy; I plan to try. Storms are due in 48 hours, during which I will be doing therapy with kids and Teddy at the local library ;it's called "Tail-Waggin' Tutors" where kids read to the dogs. I plan to put the Thundershirt onbefore I go. If OK with you, I'll let you know how it works.

Judy

Oct 12, 2018
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by: Donna

Yes, please let me know how it goes.

Do work with the other things that Susan Garrett suggested on distractions plus the holistic meds.

Oct 15, 2018
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there's always more to it...
by: Anonymous

...than we know.
Your boy is an extra sensitive boy, so his fear is real. The increase in the air of electrical energy disturbance, the increase in the power and sound of the wind, the smell of the ozone preceding the arrival of a storm, the inevitable flash and loud boom of its arrival...I feel this myself! How much more must that be for him with his acute senses of hearing, smelling and seeing.
It would be interesting to know what the weather was like at the moment of his birth. Or if, in those first moments after birth if he had been subjected to shockingly loud noises in the surroundings (machinery banging or some such thing) Sometimes they never forget.
You can help him by sitting on the floor. Make yourself comfortable and approachable. Have a snack, read a book. Just sit quietly. Do not talk to your dog. Do not react to the storm. Your dog will eventually come to you and settle next to you. He will be tense. Acknowledge his presence next to you only verbally with a calm low voice but do not chat and do not touch. He may jump up several times, but you stay calm, and
quiet. He's watching you, even if you don't think so.
When he comes back to you, same thing...say hi, continue reading...do not touch him until he settles and sighs. That is a sign he is releasing tension and that should be acknowledged with a single soft stroke along his body and a verbal 'good boy'. Stay there until the storm has passed and he stretches out, completely relaxed. Now is the time to rub him down with both hands, long soothing strokes along his body, until he yawns and completely settles. This seems like a lot of work, but it is crucial for him that you show him how to ignore a storm, in a way that he understands...with your comfort and confidence.
After this last part of the exercise, get up quietly and resume whatever you were doing before the storm came along. It may take some experiences before he learns and changes. You have to be patient and consistent and wait for him to learn it.
Good luck with this exercise. It worked very well with our fraidy-cat collie, when we had him many years ago. I don't think the dog ever got over his fear, but he handled it better. No pacing, panting, jumpiness and trying to crawl under the furniture.
It's worth trying, anyway.


Oct 15, 2018
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Thank you
by: Judy Werner

Your comments about his being able to sense a storm are spot on; I live in Texas, and our recent storms have set records for amounts and recurrence; thus now is a perfect time to try this out.

I too wonder about his past and wonder, but of course will never know.

I appreciate your input; it's amazing you can sense storms too.

I will try your suggestions.

Judy Werner


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