Labradoodle & Goldendoodle Forum

I am going to post this as a blog because  it's too long for a newsfeed

.  I have spoken to trainers who suggested a behaviorist but they are way to expensive ($700!) and there isn't even a guarantee. I have been grabbing DJ and telling him to go in his crate and he does and even though I never lock the door, when this happens and my husband is not home I do and he just lays in there fine and calm. I have to hold Bogey during fireworks and thunder and can't hold them both at the same time (Bogey 75 pound GSD mix, DJ 35 pound labradoodle. I spoke to my vet and he said fears happen once they mature even though they weren't there before (DJ is 3 now). I need to fix this and I'm at a loss. I'm afraid to leave them home alone together now. Can anyone help?

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Comment by Sebastian and Chester's Mom on December 2, 2017 at 11:59am
I’m sorry I’m late to this. I’m still relatively new to this forum, and was not a member when you started this thread. I have a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful.

1) Ace is not a good drug to use on anxious dogs. Ace inhibits the dog’s response to fear, but not the fear itself. While the dog may appear to be sedated and calm, he is very much aware of what is going on - he is just unable to respond. Over time, Ace can make a fearful dog’s anxiety worsen.

2) I would recommend seeking the help of either a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), or a Board-Certified Veterinary Behaviorist (dACVB), if that is in your budget. Their fees vary from practice to practice, but from the ones I have researched, are typically in the $300 - $400 range - not cheap by any means, but definitely better than $700. If there is not a CAAB or a dACVB in your area, the last time I checked, the dACVB in Austin, TX offered remote consults. Here are the links to see if there is a CAAB or dACVB in your area, if you are interested:

3) If consulting a Behaviorist is absolutely out of the question, there is a relatively new medication on the market that was developed specifically for noise phobia in dogs. It is called Sileo. It is a fast-acting oral gel that works by inhibiting Norepinepherine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that plays a big role in the fear response. I was given a sample of it from our behavior vet, but opted not to use it, so I can’t speak to it’s efficacy or side effects personally. It might be worth a conversation with your vet to determine if it is a good option for you.

4) A major lesson that I learned last year is that medication alone isn’t always an effective solution. A lot of times, the medication has to be paired with a sensible behavior modification plan. In your case, it sounds like you would want to use counterconditioning to help your dogs learn to associate loud, scary noises (thunder, fireworks, etc.) with something awesome (high-value treats, a favorite game, etc). You can start with a recording of the scary noises. Play the recording when the dogs are in the room, and after a loud boom, give them a treat. Next boom, they get another treat, and so on. If they have a favorite “safe place” to go during a storm or fireworks display, practice there. Keep in mind that the treat needs to come AFTER the scary event, otherwise, they might make the wrong association, and start to fear the treats. You want the scary noise to trigger anticipation of something good, not the treats to trigger the anticipation of something bad, if that makes sense.

Both of mine have noise distress to some extent. Our house is exactly one mile from one of the largest July 4 fireworks displays in the country. Kaboomtown night is our least favorite night of the year. Sebastian designated my closet as his safe space, so this past fireworks night, I stopped and picked up some BBQ brisket without sauce on my way home from work. Brisket is a dog favorite at our house.
About 5 minutes before the fireworks were going to start, I herded the dogs into my bedroom and closed the door. I turned on the tv in the bedroom pretty loud, and went to our local classical music station’s website and live-streamed them on my iPad. During the fireworks, I talked to them in a calm, soothing voice, and fed them brisket after loud booms. They both did amazingly well.

The last recommendation I would make is to read “The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia McConnell. It is essentially about learning effective ways to communicate with your dog as way way to strengthen your relationship and build trust. Dr. McConnell also has a wonderful website with a wealth of information in the learning center.

I hope this helps!
Comment by Peri Kolakowski on June 29, 2017 at 5:48pm

I asked my vet about xanax and he didn't believe in it so I don't know how much I would give him.  I have it in the house but that is people dose.  Anyway the ace seems to work on the 4th but I don't do it other days

Comment by Stacy on June 29, 2017 at 5:44pm

Peri - I meant to add that, though I've never tried it, I think dogs can have Xanax. Neither one of my girls have that kind of anxiety now, but if Olivia was still with us and still afraid that would be something I would be interested to try - or at least to talk to my vet about. Interestingly in the last 3 or 4 years of her life she did seem to kind of get over her fear of storms to a point. I'm not sure if she finally figured out that the storm wasn't going to get her, or if she just couldn't hear that well anymore or what. But I felt so much better when she didn't seem to be so frightened.

Comment by Peri Kolakowski on June 29, 2017 at 5:39pm

Stacy we use ace on 4th of July only, I don't like to use it too often.  We just hold and cuddle him and do the best we can at this time

Comment by Stacy on June 29, 2017 at 5:36pm

My old vet once prescribed acepromazine for Olivia for storm anxiety. We only tried it a couple times because I thought it was awful. She would stumble around, unable to settle down and unable to walk in a straight line. I don't think she was any less afraid, she was just drugged up. I used benedryl with very limited success. I tried turning the TV up loud and closing all the blinds (she seemed to react to the flashes of lightning as well as the thunder.) That probably helped the most. I tried the anxiety wrap. I tried comforting her and not comforting her. And nothing really made it better. We just had to get through it. She was a rescue and whatever happened in her life before I got her was something she couldn't ever quite get over. 

When I got Katie as a puppy I made storms into a party. I sang and danced, I played with all her toys, gave her treats and generally tried to assosciate bad weather with happy stuff. That seemed to work. She shows no reaction to weather. But apparently I didn't make the vacuum cleaner into enough of a party. She hates that thing!  

Comment by Wendy and Myla on June 24, 2017 at 9:56pm

I think a lot of your post is missing...???

Comment by Peri Kolakowski on June 24, 2017 at 6:58am
We hv one it doesn't do a thing
Comment by DonMarie and Picco on June 24, 2017 at 6:05am

I'm not experienced with this but a friend has a lab that is scared of thunder and she says the Thundershirt has helped.


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