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Dealing with Dog Fears
Dog fears are pretty much the same as human fears. Dogs can be afraid of almost anything, even their shadows. Dogs develop fears for all sorts of reasons but the most common fear is of loud noises. They fear loud noises and thunder because they don't know what to expect of them.
If your dog is fearful during a thunderstorm, do not try to comfort him by cuddling him. This will only reinforce his behavior because he is getting extra special attention and you know dogs loooooooove that.
You should never be hard on your dog. Never scold or hit him for being afraid. You are just compounding the problem. Never punish him.
Instead, it is a good idea to desensitize him to this sound. If a dog fears the sound of thunder, get a CD with thunder sounds or create a recording yourself and play it a low volume. Play it every day and increase the volume just a bit each day. If he starts to react at some point, then bring the volume down again until he is more comfortable hearing it at a louder volume. Before you know it, it won't even phase him anymore. The key to this technique is to introduce the sound to your dog a little at a time. This allows him time to adjust.
Some trainers might suggest to distract the dog with play but this does not solve the problem. You're not going to start playing ball during a thunderstorm at 3 a.m., are you? It is not effective to distract your dog from his fear. Dog fears should be confronted and eliminated.
If this does not work because his fear is so extreme, you may want to ask your vet to prescribe a medication your dog could take to keep him calm during a storm.
About the Author: Nancy Settecasi, Owner, Happy K-9 Dog Care
Proud owner of Skippy and Cookie, Cocker Spaniels, Dog Lover