Ask an expert

28 Jan 2004

7yr old staffie scared of storms-HELP
just over a year ago i rescued a staffie from the pound, he is 7yrs old and has a lovely nature but is terrified of thunder, as he is an inside dog, he soils the house i have tried to calm him down but it doesnt seem to work,i dont want to have to add to his fear by putting him outside but im sick of him soiling the house. is there anything that you could suggest i do to help him overcome his fear?
Answer 405 views

01 Jan 0001

Hi Jazz
This is an extremely difficult phobia to overcome (called brontophobia). You can try to desensitise him to the sound of thunder by playing a recording of thunder very softly while he is eating or playing. Gradually, over a few weeks, you can increase the volume so that he gets used to it. However this doesn't always work as storms are associated with air pressure change, lightning and wet weather, which will all probably set him off. If you know you are going to have a storm or you are there you can give him Ecofear (from vet or shop) or Rescue Remedy (from chemist - human dosage) or something stronger from the vet to calm him down. Also try leaving the radio or TV on loud enough to muffle the sound of the thunder. In your case a doggydoor may be ideal as he can then get out to defaecate, but can come in if there's a storm. Try brushing him, giving him a treat, taking him out for a walk (unless he is likely to panic and escape) or playing a game with him while the storm's on rather than trying to comfort him. He needs to associate storms with pleasant experiences.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.