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Dog Care: Dogs and Thunderstorm Phobia

Yorkie Puppy 

 

Does your pooch bury his head into your side every time it thunders out? Does he dive under the bed whenever rain starts to fall? From your point of view, this may seem like cute and endearing behavior, but it's a sign that your Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier is terrified of storms. Some owners are willing to simply put up with symptoms of storm phobias like hiding, trembling, whining, drooling, and pacing. In more severe cases, however, panicking Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terriers have been known to chew furniture, tear drapes, break windows, and more during thunderstorms. In either case, the behavior is a sign of a terrified, unhappy Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier.

Causes
Storm phobias are one of the most common behavioral problems  Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier owners face, but their cause is not entirely clear. Behaviorists are not yet sure what part of the storm frightens Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terriers most, whether they're reacting to lightning flashes, the sound of thunder, wind blowing around the house, or the sound of rain on the roof. Some Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terriers even start to pace and whine half an hour or more before a storm. They may be reacting to a sudden drop in air pressure or the electrical charge of the air.

The JAAHA study also showed that rescued Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terriers--Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terriers adopted from shelters or rescue organizations--may also be more likely to develop storm phobias. The article suggested that these Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terriers are more likely to have had unpleasant, scary experiences prior to being adopted. They may have been abused or abandoned by a former owner, or they may not have been well socialized or exposed to a wide variety of sights and sounds. These kinds of early-life experiences can make Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terriers more anxious and prone to all kinds of phobias.

What to do
Your best bet for helping your pup overcome his thunderstorm fears is to talk to your veterinarian. He or she can help you develop a program to gradually retrain your scaredy Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier by gradually, gently helping him adjust to storms through behavior modification. Technically called "systematic desensitization," this involves exposing the storm-phobic Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier to some gentle reminders of a thunderstorm, such as a very soft tape recording of thunder or a flashing light, and rewarding the Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier with lots of treats, attention, and other positive reinforcement only if there's no evidence of anxiety. Over time, the intensity of the stimulus is increased, and only calm behavior rewarded. You should get professional guidance, either from a veterinarian or a veterinary behavior specialist, before you begin this process, however. If you introduce frightening stimuli too quickly or don't see signs of fear your Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier may be showing, you could possibly end up making the phobia worse.

If gentle, patient retraining doesn't help your pooch, there are some prescriptions that can. Your veterinarian can prescribe one of several anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications to help your Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier remain calm during storms. You can also make sure your Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier has a warm, safe "den" to retreat to when the weather gets too scary. You can try padding a crate with blankets or clearing a space underneath your bed. Just make sure that it's somewhere your pup can get out of whenever he wants. A panicked Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier can do a lot of damage to his crate and himself if he's confined.

Most important, though, is that your treat your Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier gently and kindly when he is afraid. Don't cuddle and reassure him, because that will reward his scaredy-Yorkie Puppy, Yorkshire Terrier behavior, but definitely don't punish him for it either. Instead, just be calm and provide him with a safe, familiar place where he can feel secure and ride out the storm.