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mmisk

Severe Thunderphobia

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Actually Karissa, PetSmart just started carrying the Thundershirt in at least some stores, but you're right that most of the time they haven't done enough research into the products to know how to effectively use them. Part of the reason to go with the Thundershirt instead of just a compression jacket is that it is supposed to also help with dispersing any electrical charges which might be in the air. There is a theory that one of the reasons some dogs are so afraid of thunderstorms (and consequently the reason some seek out the bathtub or other tiled surface to 'ground' themselves) is because the electrical buildup in the air delivers a multitude of shocks to the dog throughout the storm. That being said, there's actually very little research done on thunderphobia, but I know sometimes I can feel the electricity in the air, and I've been shocked more than once by my dogs.

 

Personally, I like the Thundershirt for some dogs, but realistically, there is no quick fix ever and you kind of have to try a few different things to see what will be effective. In the times between storms, I would strongly recommend a combination of systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning. If Pavlov, in addition to conditioning a dog to salivate at a bell, can make a dog salivate to an electrical shock (and I'm not making this up) because the value of the reward is high enough, then it's definitely worth a shot.

 

During the storm, the previous advice on a combination of meds and Thundershirt are good ones. Lavender, DAP, and Rescue Remedy are some other natural calming agents for some dogs that might help in the management as you're working on a behavior modification regiment. I'm not so sure, given the age and history, that you'll be able to completely stop the fear, but hopefully, you can get to a point of positive management.

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