Every night when the thunder started, at any hour, Picane rushed out into Charlotte’s run to put on her thunder shirt and sat with her until she calmed down, however, she always managed to injure herself. We decided to see if she’d cope better in a home environment, after which I started to take her home every evening. I cannot do any behaviour modification with her, while the thunderstorm season is still with us; all I can do is to try different things to make her feel safe during the storms.
My first attempt was to crate train her, and it worked out really well. She did go into the crate, but I had to sit with her, and some nights, slept on the floor next to her in the crate. Of course, all my dogs thought that this is just awesome and joined me next to her crate. My dogs’ sleeping seems to calm her down, and this was a great solution, until she ripped the crate apart.
All I could do was to create a doggy den for her, by using the dining room table, covering it from top to bottom with blankets and placing some bedding and pillows for her, thinking now we’ll have to wing it.
As I’m writing this, we’re having quite a bad thunderstorm; as soon as it started Charlotte started to pace, from room to room, trying to find a place to hide her head. (She likes to have her head covered. It makes her feel safe). I leave her alone when she’s pacing, and we usually put the television on, or some through a dog’s ear music for her to drown out the thunder, however, it doesn’t always work. She has finally settled down in her doggie den, and she can cope as long as she can be near someone. Massaging her ears decreases her heavy panting, and her thunder shirt gives her that snug safe feeling she needs.
I constantly have to make sure that the tools I use (the thunder shirt, the music and even the messages), never predicts bad things are going to happen. She loves car rides, so I’d put on her shirt and take her for a car ride; take it off when it’s done. The music I’d pair up with a super yummy chew when she’s calm and fearless. I’ll massage her ears at random times, so that it at no time really predicts any specific event.
I’ve never left her alone when it looks like it might rain that day. Her ultimate coping mechanism is having someone with her when she’s scared. And you really don’t have to do something specific, just being there is enough for her.
When the thunder season is over, we’ll have a shot with doing counter conditioning and working on her phobia. Which will probably never completely go away, but hopefully we can teach her how to cope better.