It’s that time again, for some pet owners, a dreaded time. Thunderstorms! Some folks around the country have them all year long. My two dogs are fairly young and are not afraid of loud noises, but I do not take this for granted. My Minnie who passed in January 2014 was very afraid of thunder and as the later years passed, she got better with positive association practice.
Recently, I was cooking in the kitchen and a rain/thunderstorm was going on. Boom! A big one hit very close. Fortunately, I had just pulled a chicken from the oven. I yelled “chicken” (it was the first thing out of my mouth) and gave each of the dogs a hearty piece, then gave myself one, then another boom, more chicken. The dogs thought the storm was great. I was glad that I was with the dogs for that big one!
Fourth of July this year, we were invited to stay in town, in Telluride, Colorado. This is a high, mountain town, located in a box canyon, so when those big fireworks go off, it’s very loud. So I stayed with the dogs inside the house and loaded my treat bag with bacon and lunch meat. Those are treats that they rarely receive. The early boomers were the toughest and I delivered a bunch of treats, but then when the fireworks were in full bloom, I was able to watch them out the window with the dogs and deliver treats more slowly. Romeo, being a Zen Buddhist, was his calm self. Mick was more excited and aroused, but I thought he did well.
You can’t reinforce fear. You can soothe and comfort your dog during a storm. Read of my favorite PhDs, Patricia McConnell’s article called You Can’t Reinforce Fear, Dogs & Thunderstorms.
What I wouldn’t have done is leave them alone in a strange place with loud fireworks happening outside. I appreciate that my dogs can handle loud noises, but I don’t take it for granted. Always think about how a situation might be for your dog and then help them be as successful as you can.