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Any suggestions on training a German Shepherd NOT to be afraid of storms?

I have no idea how she became so fearful, but she freaks out! It doesn't even have to rumble loudly. It can just be a heavy downpour. She woke me up last night whining and trying to get into rooms where she KNOWS she's not allowed, and spaces where she just cannot fit without knocking stuff over. In the past, we tried to comfort her by allowing her to jump in bed with us (to no avail, she still wouldn't settle down even if we were holding her ~ yeah, I know. Way too huge for coddling!) Lately I have taken Ceasar Milan's advice and ignored this behavior, or at least sternly told her "No. Go lay down." Still doesn't work. We usually end up putting her in her crate and have to lock her in there until the storm is over. She settles down, not even whining. Why doesn't she just head for her "safe place" when she gets scared instead of freaking out? I feel like I am punishing her when I have to lock her in.

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Asked by PSMother at 9:02 PM on Mar. 7, 2009 in Pets

Level 3 (26 Credits)
Answers (6)
  • I am under the impression that there is no way to fix this problem because the dogs feel the drop in barometric pressure which causes them discomfort, almost the same way as people who have arthritis can "feel" the humidity in their joints.  Some dogs will actually do serious damage to themselves and/or furniture trying to get away from the storm.  If she's safe in her crate, don't feel bad about putting her there. 


    Answer by haberdasher at 9:59 PM on Mar. 7, 2009

  • I don't think there is a way to fix this, some dogs are just really scared of storms.

    The best thing to do is put the dog in it's crate. They will feel the safest in the place, believe it or not. I have a 2 yo lab and started leaving her out of her crate this year because I thought it would be better for her. But she'd destroy stuff ... not all the time, sporatically, like mail, shoes, misc. items. I asked my vet about it and he said that she's having issues being alone in the house by herself, it freaks her out and then she acts out. So now we crate her everytime we leave. She feels safe and we are not cleaning up all sorts of junk when we get home :)

    If you're dog goes to the vet, ask for their opinion. Some dogs get so out of hand that they need relaxers, but that can be expensive. If the crate is working, when you start to hear a storm coming and the dog gets excited, put them in it.

    Answer by ap9902 at 10:49 PM on Mar. 7, 2009

  • I sure do understand your concern - giving some Valerian may help your dog: very safe and natural - here is a source / anxiety and pets/

    here is a source about the usage of Valerian with any kind of anxiety...


    Answer by nuvetmarie at 12:53 PM on Mar. 8, 2009

  • The bad thing is that this always happens at night when we're all asleep! So I have no way to know that there is a storm approaching. When we are home during the day and it storms, she doesn't seem to get so anxious. We are sitting in the same room or going about our business. I don't know what happens if we are at work during a storm. Doesn't seem to be any damage to the house. It's just so annoying to be waken with whining and noises that tell us she is trying to get into places she can't.... I will look into the valerian since I haven't heard of that one before. Could this be a breed characteristic? Or just an individual thing?

    Answer by PSMother at 1:32 PM on Mar. 8, 2009

  • here are a lot of breeds that suffer fron anxiety. I have a Lhasa and he has always been afraid of storms. The smell of rain in the air , the baromotor, sounds off in the distance we don't even hear yet. We have delt with this every 11 yrs. We live in Fl and have huricanes,rainy seasons, etc. We asked our vet what might help during this season . She prescribed a holistic meds called composure. You can only buy from a vet. We have been using it , for about 6 months and we also use his crate as he feels secure in it. Don't think he will ever be NOT be afraid as he is older now and is still that way. We just cope with his problem and comfort him the best we can. Hope you find something that can settle his nerves , when you are around. I ck the weather station everyday to see whats out there just in case. It's really sad to see him this way. So good luck, and may he get help soon.

    Answer by doglovergranny at 4:50 PM on Mar. 8, 2009

  • i have heard of a tape that you can get thats got theas storms on it maby trie that good luck not nice seeing your animal up set if she is happy in the cage then dont be up set xx

    Answer by debbie533 at 5:51 PM on Mar. 9, 2009

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