My Adopted Dog Seems Frightened Of The Wet Weather

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by Khya, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. Khya Active Member

    I have only had my adopted 2yr old female German Shepherd for 8 weeks, and today we have had our first few drops of rain. I had to coax her to come out under the patio with treats and as soon as she had eaten one she rain back inside through the doggie door. The rain drops were making a bit of a noise as they dropped on the patio tin roof and to me they weren't very loud and certainly not as loud as that of a big storm (which no doubt we will get in the next few months). My older dog and previous dogs have never been scared of loud bangs or thunder and lightening so this behaviour is new to me. It wasn't raining heavy and we really only had enough rain to just wet the ground and no thunder. Also I have noticed that she ran behind the furniture when someone let fireworks off in the neighbourhood the other night. I am learning who she is at the moment as different things come up and I didn't give it another thought that she would be so scared of certain things. So my question is is how to overcome it. I know not to comfort her as this will make her think that the behaviour is OK. We are still in the midst of summer here but in the next couple of months there will be a change in the weather and the rains will hopefully arrive and I would like to be armed and ready to respond. I have basically ignored the behaviour today after she had run back inside. She was an 'only outside dog' until coming to my house so it makes me think that she must have had such a terrible time if she was left outside in the winter by herself when thunder was around. I walk her everyday so once winter is here she will no doubt get caught in the rain from time to time and maybe that will sort the problem out. Also she loves the water and will jump in the river or the ocean with no problems so it seems it's more the noise than the water.
    Tâmara Vaz and MaryK like this.

  2. MaryK Honored Member

    Does sound like she's had some bad experiences when just an 'outside dog'.

    I do 'comfort' but more a 'hey it's o.k.' manner, just to reassure the dog to let them know they're not alone. I don't make a 'big thing' of it, more said with a bit of a laugh, and I've found that the one dog I had who was scared of storms, got over his fear quite quickly. I know all trainers say not to do this, but I believe in treating each dog as an individual not 'one size fits all'.

    Some dogs actually respond better to a little 'reassurance' that it's o.k. and not going to hurt them.
    Tâmara Vaz likes this.
  3. Khya Active Member

    Oh that sounds like a different approach. I have never come across this fear before in any of my dogs so I was a little shocked when Khya decided to run behind the lounge. I will try the hey it's Ok manner next time then and see her reaction. I was just a bit worried of letting her think that the behavior was OK so I just ignored her. I know that she feels much comfort being inside the house as she never goes out into the garden unless I am out there. My other older dog is happy to spend some of the time on his bed outside so long as he can hear me pottering around inside. I have a doggie door and they are both free to come in and out all the time. I was just a little concerned how her reaction would be if I am out and there's a storm. Will see how it goes during the next wet day. Thanks MaryK
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  4. 648117 Honored Member

    If you don't feel like the luring really helped then I wouldn't do it. It is a bit like bribing or begging the dog to go out which I guess could also encourage the behaviour or show that you agree that there is something to be afraid of.

    You could go outside and pretend you are having "the best time ever" in the rain so she sees you are not afraid. Maybe take your other dog out into the rain and have a game if you can, completely ignore your shep until she looks interested and then invite her out. If she doesn't come out then just continue having your "party" in the rain. Eventually she might decide to join you, if she does don't make too much of a big deal but assure her that she is a good girl.
  5. ackerleynelson Well-Known Member

    If your dog is frightened of loud noises like thundering or firecrackers, then this can happen because your dog has some traumatic experiences associated with the sound. Dogs who are afraid of thunder may later become afraid of the wind, dark clouds, and flashes of light that often precede the sound of thunder. So you can try these things:-

    • Create a safe place for your dog to go to when she hears the noises that frighten her. But remember, this must be a safe location from her perspective, not yours.
    • Distract your dog and this method works best when your dog is just beginning to get anxious. Encourage her to engage in any activity that captures her attention and distracts her from behaving fearfully.
    • Behaviour modification techniques are often successful in reducing fears and phobias.
    There are things which should not to be done:-

    • Do not attempt to reassure your dog when she is afraid.
    • Do not put your dog in a crateto prevent her from being destructive during a thunderstorm.
    • Do not punish your dog for being afraid.
    • Do not try to force your dog to experience or be close to the sound that frightens her.
    Tâmara Vaz likes this.
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    My dog is also afraid of wet weather. When we first got him, it was February, and it rained probably every day for a couple of weeks. He was incredibly jumpy ( as in, jumped up on me a lot) and mouthy (nipped /mouthed at my wrists and arms) when we were out walking. At the time, I just thought he was a really jumpy/mouthy dog. I read lots of articles and watched YouTube videos about loose leash walking and jumpy/mouthy dogs, etc, and I began taking treats on our walks and kind of luring him to stay down as we walked. I thought my training was really paying off as we started having a much easier time and his jumpy/mouthy behavior eased off dramatically. Then we had a really bad weather day. Rain and strong wind. He had been awful in the house and was jumping and mouthing and barking at family members. Everyone was fed up with him, so I thought I had better take him for a walk before someone really lost their temper with him. Well, it was really windy and raining hard, and he freaked out. I tried to keep walking and lure him down with treats as I had been, but he was going nuts, grabbing the front of my jacket with his teeth and trying to pull me away from the street. I mean really pulling! When we passed by street drains where the water was flowing really fast, he stopped and barked and wouldn't let me pull him away. When we finally turned a corner and were sheltered from the wind, he calmed right down. Looking back, I realize now that his behavior improvement had coincided with some nice dry weather. When I walk him in the rain, which here in BC cannot be avoided, I have to be careful because he will jump out into the street when we pass noisy drains, or if approaching cars are going fast and making loud water sounds. I have started taking my clicker with me and just making him sit closer and closer to the drains and clicking and treating for calm behavior. Now that I have clued in to this issue, I am hopeful that I can help him get over it. It rains a lot here!
  7. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Here is a link you might want to check out with regard to the idea that comforting your fearful dog is wrong. http://dogmantics.com/2012/11/01/you-cant-reinforce-fear-dog-training/
  8. Tâmara Vaz Experienced Member

    Hi, :)
    My dog is a very fearful, but she's getting better... And I have tried so many things that I don't know exactly what worked out and what didn't or if she just got older and more used to stuff...
    A nice idea is to reproduce the sound on the computer, tv... on very low volume then go increasing and rewarding for keeping calm around it. I've noticed she's been very afraid of NOISE trucks:( and I'm STILL going to try this. This may work for you.:)
    And I sometimes do "bribing", throwing threats gradually closer to the scary thing, momentarily makes Laika "lose" the fear, BUT if the same situation happens again she will scary and be fearful again and clearly wants to get threats like before, however she "loses" the fear more quickly. Once she "loses" the fear I like to stop the scary thing as a reward.
    I know you can't stop the :confused: rain, but stopping the scary thing can be a reward if your dog is not completely turned off!! Using the association: fearful behavior--scaring stuff continues and confident behavior--scaring stuff disappears can be very useful.;)
    MaryK likes this.
  9. Khya Active Member

    Hello there brody's_mum gosh you sound like you have a lot on your plate with poor Brody. It makes me wonder if someone has given him affection at the wrong time when he was frightened which has reinforced the bad behaviour. Us humans seem to be good at doing that unintentionally of course. I feel that you need to keep presenting him with whatever it is that frightens him until he is desensitized. So doing clicker training right next to the noisy drain would be a good thing and you sound as though you have it under control well done. I think half of the problem is knowing just what to do to get over the problem that you have and then introducing it and reinforcing it.
    We have hardly had any rain here in Western Australia since I first noticed my adopted dog had a few issues with storms, so I haven't seen my dog run behind the furniture again. She has settled in much better now and it's taken her a while to feel comfortable. She is a very dominant shepherd so it feels strange for me to understand her fears. I am keeping my fingers crossed that once the bad weather arrives which surely can't be too far away that she copes with it really well. My older dog who is 11yrs is always calm and so I hope some of his calm energy rubs off on her. Good luck with Brody.
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  10. brody_smom Experienced Member

    His jumping and mouthing was a real issue at first (we've only had him for 2 months; he was 7 months old when we adopted him from the SPCA). The jumping has tapered off nicely, just from turning our backs on him. The mouthing is still an issue, and it presents differently at different times. Sometimes it is obviously just his way of playing, but when we are on a walk or run and he is anxious about a particular person walking behind us, he will still jump up and grab at my arm with his mouth, sometimes nipping and pulling at my clothing, as if he is trying to pull me away from them. He is part border collie, so this could be an instinctive behavior, but very unpleasant nonetheless.
    He was previously in a home with his littermate sister, who was also surrendered to the SPCA. She was shyer with people than he was, but the staff at the SPCA said he was undersocialized with people, and there were too many dogs in the home. Here, he is the only dog, but we have 7 people and 2 cats. The SPCA had labelled him barrier aggressive, but we have also found him to be shy/reactive, also fairly typical for border collies.
    MaryK likes this.
  11. Khya Active Member

    Oh dear he does seem to have a few problems that you need to work on. I wouldn't like all that jumping and nipping and to me he needs a firm hand to tell him 'no' to let him know that the behavior is unacceptable. I wonder if someone laughed at him when he first did it and in so doing praised him so he now thinks that is normal. Just simple obedience training does wonders for all the other baggage that adopted dogs carry along with them. I am on my third adopted dog and each one one them had issues that's why they are in the shelters in the first place because people have given up on them. My older dog who is Shepherd x Rotti and 42kg used to bark and charge men when I first got him. I thought that it was aggression but after taking him to obedience class with a one to one instructor was told that he just needed socializing. So I worked on that as well as obedience training each day and within three months he was the most loyal beautiful dog that I could ever wish for. If Brody has border collie in him he is a very active dog and will need lot's of exercise each day and if you have time I would also work on stimulating his mind with tricks and maybe agility classes. All this will keep his mind focused and will also tire him so that he will be less likely to keep jumping on you. My hats off to you for adopting....it takes a special person to work on some of these dogs who need rehabilitating.
    MaryK likes this.
  12. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Thanks for your comments, Khya. This is our second rescue dog; the first was a 7 year old shepherd/chow cross who we lost to cancer one year ago. She was the easiest dog in the world, but we knew Brody was going to be more of a challenge, simply because of his age and breed.

    According to his SPCA file, the previous owner had him and his sister for all 7 months of their lives, so that leads me to believe she also owned at least their mother, if not the father as well. Apparently, the owner became ill and so she had a friend bring the two pups to the SPCA. They had had very little interaction with people other than the owner and the lady who brought them in, and it seems like very few men, if any, as he is quite reactive to my husband.

    Because he is part border collie, I was expecting him to be very active, but he isn't really. He gets 2 brisk walks everyday, and we play a little ball in the house or the backyard, but he gets bored with it very quickly and stops bringing the ball back. If we are outside, he starts eating grass or digging holes, or just chewing on the ball. I have let him run off leash at nearby parks when a friend and his 3 chocolate labs have been playing fetch (they will go for hours!) and he really enjoys that, but when he is by himself, not so much.

    For his mental stimulation, I got him one of those Kong feeders, and he gets both meals from there. I even hide it from him to keep things interesting. We do daily training sessions, and play hide and seek, but I am always interested in learning new ways to work his little brain. He is quite eager to do anything when I have food, but without food, he can be a bit of a knucklehead and just refuses to do even a sit. I just watched Jean Cote's video on verbal command conditioning, so I think I will go back and reinforce a few of his older commands using his suggestions.
    MaryK likes this.

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