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There’s not much you can do about a dog that is genetically prone to anxiety, but breeders and dog owners can head off the thunderstorm problem by exposing puppies before 12 weeks of age to constant loud overhead sounds. Since it’s hard to find a co-operative thunder storm; as a companion to my book “Socializing Puppies” I had soundtracks made of thunderstorms, another of baby cries and another of sound effects of in and around a home. I recommend that breeders and dog owners play these constantly for their puppies as all of those sounds can produce anxiety. The idea being to play them so often the dog believes they’re as normal as a bird chirping.
Thunder Phobic Dogs
However they have another use and that is to desensitize already phobic dogs by flooding their environment with the sound that distresses them. A recording can be introduced gradually and at low volumes until the recording runs constantly at full blast from speakers set high. Eventually though it is wise to turn the volume way down and periodically without warning turn it on and then offer a treat or a toy that would normally be irresistible. If the dog won’t take it drop the volume. The dog is continued to be “surprised” until it associates a sudden clap of thunder with a positive. Flooding isn’t a new idea but it was when a friend of mine with a thunder phobic dog moved to a home with a train track very near that the value of flooding hit home. Bob (the dog and an old soul if ever there was one) went from anxious to indifference and she was better then middle aged with a long history of anxiety behind her.