There have been 4 thunderstorms this week and it’s been dreadful. Not for me, mind you, although I did wake up once in the middle of the night because it was so loud. But, it’s horrible for my poor dog, Hailey. She’s scared of loud noises, be it fireworks, gun shots, trains, big trucks, small cars going fast, etc… So, when there is a thunderstorm imminent, she paws at the mud room door because that’s her safe space.
I’ve done a lot of training with Hailey. She LOVES to train and she’s super smart. I’ve always said I’m the one holding her back. I’m positive she can learn anything! Having said that, I can’t teach her to be less afraid of all loud noises. I can desensitize her to predictable loud noises, like a vacuum cleaner. I remember the first time I turned on the vacuum cleaner when she was a puppy she ran and hid in the shoe rack! Now, when I turn on the vacuum cleaner she comes to me from wherever she is and looks up at me expectantly for a treat, lol.
Same thing for other loud noises that I can replicate. For example, she would bolt when I dropped a stainless bowl on the kitchen floor (on purpose). Now, she will look startled, but she won’t run away. She’ll even investigate to see what’s going on because it might yield a treat, hehe.
However, I can’t replicate or predict thunder. She can tell when thunder is close by faster than me. And it’s definitely thunder, not just rain. She can stay calm when it’s just raining outside. Other times, she will ask to go into the mud room before any rain hits the ground because she knows a thunderstorm is going to hit soon.
A while back, I bought her a ThunderShirt, but it did nothing for her. Someone told me she’d feel safer in the bathroom, but she doesn’t stay for long and she’s back to the mud room. I try to hug/comfort her, but she gets up when I do. It breaks my heart that she can’t find comfort with me 😦
Anyways, earlier this year she exhibited another quirk related to thunderstorms. After a storm passes, she would start licking her lips, make gagging noises, and want to go outside. Once outside she would FRANTICALLY eat grass. I’ve read that one of the reasons dogs eat grass is if they have an upset stomach. I’m guessing she gets so stressed that her stomach doesn’t feel good. Anyways, if we bring her back in (because all she wants to do is eat grass) she will desperately lick the carpet/rug. It’s like she’s looking for any kind of roughage she can find.
Luck would have it, one day when we were at a pet supply store picking up some cat litter, there was a stand with some Super Snouts products on it. We asked about it and they said one of the benefits was that it helped anxiety. I asked about thunderstorms and they said other customers have used it for that, yes. At the time, they ran out of the treat form, CHILL+OUT, so we bought the oil, ISOHEMP-150.
We gave her the oil a couple hours before a storm hit (I was tracking the storm on my cell phone). She definitely had a delayed reaction to the storm, but she still asked to go into the mudroom. However, after the storm, she did not need to eat grass! We thought it might be a fluke, but after a few more storms, it was the same. No more frantically pulling on her leash to eat grass. It was a small victory 🙂
We bought the treat form next and I don’t feel like it had quite the same result as the oil. She still doesn’t need to eat grass, but she seems a little more scared during the storm. Treats are a little easier to give, but Hailey is so good about taking meds it’s not really a big deal. In any case, we will continue to buy either the Super Snouts tincture or treats. I’ll take any small victory when it comes to helping Hailey overcome her thunder phobia.
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