Fear Remedies for Pets

Fear of Loud Noises
Posted by Vince F (Philadelphia, PA) on 09/20/2006
5 out of 5 stars

I have worked with the most scared Afghan hounds you could imagine. First, I would make sure there are no physical ailments. Animals may over react when they don't feel well. I had a dominant male go completely bonkers with dog aggression when he had gone anemic after antibiotics. He faded fast but really came on strong.

What I have used with great success is letting the animals see me making the noise that spooked them, if at all possible. Taping on a windor AC that spooked one as we walked by it was enough to keep her from walking into the street as we passed them. I did it to mine. I have thrown snaps for ones spooked by fireworks. One ran from me for the first 5, and jumped on me for the rest. One would bang her tail on the front of the washing machine as she wagged it as I would get food ready, and the sound would scare her and stop wagging, and start over and stop. I worked the brass mail slot that would make one upchuck when home alone and mail came. I had the situation happen to me as I slept on the sofa and my heart liked to stop from the startling noise, that with big items the door would bang on the frame as the mailman forced them in. Working the slot and letting her see me make the noise, must have made her think it was me, after that when the mail came.

Experts swear that all I do is reinforce their fears when I say that I rub their ears and body, and speak softly to them when the noise is occurring or I am making it. If I can't let them see me make the sound, and then get them to go sniff the item as I make it, and rub and talk to them, just rubbing the ears and talking works just as good. Once I can get them to go to the source of the noise, they have been cured!

Fear of Loud Noises
Posted by Vince F (USA)
5 out of 5 stars

We wrote Vince asking him for more information about curing skiddish dogs (since we have one)... Here is his wonderful response:

Let me give you a little more background. I favor Afghan Hounds, considered to be a very sensitive, skiddish breed. I live in a big city, and most breeders live in the burbs and country. My first challenge was a 3 yr old female that though she came from the country, the breeder lived fight across from a dragstrip starting line that was across a road, and it faced the house. The breeder was very good with their dogs. The wife was a vet tech, and they bred and showed, But they had a 4 kids and just lost a son to a brain tumor. The female I took, because they were moving far, and wanted to place ones they weren't showing. She was a very sweet, but sensitive girl, and got little attention with all they had going on, and was kenneled. When the jet dragsters were in they said they would loose a few windows from the pressure. I delayed taking her for one day on NY'ers eve because of all the noise and a long parade that would be the next day, since I live near the street the parade is on. I was told it wouldn't matter because of where they lived, but I was bringing a dog to a new home in a big city, so wanted to make it as easy as possible on her.

I didn't know she was afraid of sounds, but she was a basket case!! She wanted to bolt when someone stomped their boots to get snow off them on a walk, loud cars and motorcycles freaked her out. She would bolt and spin at the end of the leash. One time she hit a piece of heavy sheet metal in the trash, and and wound up on her back, spinning like she was break dancing as the metal fell and clanged. I Didn't know how to help her, but felt sick seeing her SO bad. I knew about fears. I grew up loving dogs, and where we spent summers in the country, a friend's dad's Cocker type hunting dog used to stay outside our house because I gave it SO much attention. When I was 11, I had a bad scare by a dog and fell off my bike. The next yr we stopped going there and I didn't have Widdles to get me over my fear. For 12 yrs I couldn't go near a dog till a friend got a Collie pup who got car sick in my lap as we drove on an expressway where we couldn't even pull over for a few miles, and in my lap was unchewed Cherroes and cut up hot dogs, which boggled my mind that someone would feed that. The sensations that were similar to what happened when around dogs. I say the incident cured me, but I think it was really being around a harmless pup.

With Shena, my super scared girl, the first time I tried to help her was when we got caught at a park, under a canopy, in a severe thunder storm. We would have gotten drenched getting to the car so we waited it out. Of Course she wanted to run out of her skin every time the thunder and lightening happened, and All I could think of was to Try to comfort her. I rubbed her ears and spoke softly to her, and run my hands all over her body, to Try to reduce the tension in her. Now bear in mind that eXperts claim that ALL I did was reinforce her fears... BBBBB SSSS!! It took 20min for the storm to end and by the end she was hardly reacting to the light and sound, and after that, NO fear of storms! She liked to lay on her back with her legs spread, A very vulnerable position for them. They have to feel very secure to lay that way. When a storm would come through while we were in the house, all I would do is ask her if she was OK, and all she do was would look over, and not move. She was never afraid of storms again...

This girl had many fears that had to be worked on. She would wag her tail as I got their food, and it would hit the front of the washer that sounded like a bass drum. The sound would make her tense and stop waging and tuck her tail. It would happen over and over as I was getting their food. Being the type of person that likes to give the fearful confidence, and mellow the aggressive, I couldn't stand her being afraid. One day I thought about how to cure her. I went to her, squatted down to her height, started stroking her head and ears and speaking softly, asking her what the problem was, and made sure she saw my hand as I banged on the washer and made the sound that her tail did. It took a few times to get her not to react, but when she didn't, I made her go to the washer as I banged on it. Cured!!

I had to do it to a few things, and even a similar thing when she ate and my male would bump her as they ate, since she would tense and not be able to eat. When I talked to her and stroked her, she would attack her food. She liked me to rub her face while she ate. Maybe it felt like being against her mothers stomach when nursing as a pup. I would run my hands down her back to see if that bothered her. It didn't and I decided to see how good she was, and patted her lightly like playing bongos. Didn't bother her. The real joy was seeing her look in my male's bowl and something extra that I had put in, that he hadn't finished, and get up, go around the back of him, and if he didn't move to her bowl, PUSH him over like in those cat food commercials and eat out of his bowl.

There are a few more things but the REAL Joy was walking by a playground that had an 8' high stone fence, so you couldn't see inside, and kids set off a gigantic firecracker, that sounded like a BOMB. It made my hair stand on end as I felt the concussion on my chest, and my Super Macho male Jumped. My sweet formerly sensitive girl, didn't even flinch!! She was sniffing a tree for a long time and I was wanting to move on so I was looking at her, but I don't like to rush them or stop their enjoyment, since they aren't free. I Thought she had gone deaf, so I jingled my keys on the side of her head, out of sight, and she reacted, so she Wasn't deaf.

OK, first I would make sure the dog has no ills, like digestive problems, like my male did. BTW, when I first went to see him he wouldn't come near me, being Afraid of men. I knew the breeder and had a female from her, so Don't know why she offered him to me, unless a mutual breeder friend told her of my others. It took 3min to become buddies, offering him food, and putting it down and backing off a few times, and then sitting holding a piece, and waiting for him to come get it. I gave him a hug and took him.

Next, I would try to make the animal see YOU making the sound that bothers them. This same male picked up an incredible fear to fireworks, the week after I took him. It was Chinese NY'ers, and they set off a Whole pack of firecrackers, and he had tensed on a walk hearing them a block away, and bus blew by that compounded his fear, and he tried to bolt. He wouldn't go into the yard alone for a week. I decided on a cap gun to work with him but couldn't find one and bought Snaps, the things you throw on the ground and explode. he was SO bad I bought 6 boxes of 100ea, and wondered if That was enough. It Took 10!! He ran from me the first 5 I threw, and jumped on me for the 2nd 5. I threw 10 more to make sue he was cured. He didn't have a problem for 5yrs, till kids lit some outside the yard while he was out there. I threw 10 more and he never had the problem again. Making sure the animal sees you creating the sound, and talking softly and rubbing their ears is what I would do if possible. In a T storm, I would work with them rubbing and talking softly. I might even Hug them if it was Real bad. If they run from you in the house. I might put a leash on them as soon as I heard the storm coming, so you could control them, and keep them close.

Remember, they don't understand what the sound/storm is and try to get away from it. My macho male climbed the yard cinder block fence 2 days in a row and walked the length of it to try to get away from storms. I never worked with him since he never showed a fear of sounds. In those cases he was in the yard alone, and I was at work. After that I got a 2nd dog, so maybe that helped him.

Sorry for writing so much. I do go on, but maybe something else will give you other ideas that will help or work. Even though the dog is 12, it is Never too late. At least they get Some relief. You say that yours only has problems during storms, but maybe every sound they are tensing, expecting loud ones. With my male I cure with cayenne, he was 10 before I figured it out, so 8 yrs after I got him. He came very food sensitive and very lean for a VERY lean breed. The yogurt and tripe Cured and Bulked him up to Normal weight in Days, which I still can't believe. He did have some minor digestive problems that I didn't understand till he got the diarrhea, and sometimes his stools would be soft, but Not after the cayenne. He lived to be 14 so had 4 Confident, calm years with No food or other sensitivities at all for his last years, and he would fine a New one on Every walk, that I would cure the usual way, though just talking usually worked.