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sea4th
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Male border collie, rescue, about 5 yrs old. Extremely thunderphobic. We've had a lot of thunderstorms roll through here. Latest damage count is I need an entire door replaced. Cheap door, yes, but he clawed through it and the dry wall around it. Need to re-dry wall now. During a thunderstorm I keep him and another dog out in the hall, darkened with a fan and radio going. Once he broke through, sees he is inside the house where his arch enemy happens to be, fight breaks out. A bad one. No stitches required but both dogs on antibiotics and I was bitten several times in the process of breaking them up.

 

Crating is not an option. The barking elevates to an extreme and eventually, he'll break out of it like a gorilla. I've gone through a couple of sturdy wire crates because of this.

 

Other things going on, I know. This dog has some separation anxiety and while he doesn't damage during those episodes, he barks. Barks a lot. And while I'm not a fan of bark collars -- the kind that delivers a small shock, I tried on on him. It worked for a day. Doesn't phase him at all now.

 

He is extremely smart, clever, loves to ride in the car with you and needs lots of one on one, but that's impossible in a home where someone goes to work or school on a daily basis. Overall a nice dog, but he's got issues. He is good with people and most other dogs, but there are two in my house that he absolutely hates. One is a neutered male, his arch enemy and my main dog, Joe, who is not neutered, but is definately the alpha male in the house.

 

When thunderstorms roll through, I cannot keep him in the house. I can't keep him in an enclosed run in the garage where he has a couple of crates he can curl up in. So, out of desperation, I put him in my car overnight through the storm. Worked like a charm. Not a peep out of him, even during the storm. Still this is only a temporary fix. This dog needs a lot more.

 

Right now, I'm at my wits end and so I'm having trouble separating the issues here, and there are more than one.

 

I think I'm actually doing this dog a disservice by having him in my care, but few people want to take on a dog with issues. In the meantime, I feel guilty he needs far more than I'm able to give him in my situation. Mentally I'm worn out and frustrated.

 

I used to take him to work with me when the weather was cool, and we'd spend my lunch hour together, which he loved, which we both enjoyed, but that's no longer possible since our office moved and I need to take the train in.

 

I've thought of thundershirts, but as hot and humid as it's been here, I don't want to put another layer on him.

 

Do you allow a dog to live on like this? I've actually thought of euthanizing him, but he's a dog that is physically healthy, likes people and IMO, has a brilliant mind, even for a border collie.

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Do you allow a dog to live on like this? I've actually thought of euthanizing him, but he's a dog that is physically healthy, likes people and IMO, has a brilliant mind, even for a border collie.

I can't answer this question for you or for anyone else, but I can tell you that I have known people who exhausted all possibilities for a severely thunderphobic dog of theirs and - even with a stay-at-home person - finally felt their only option *for the dog's sake* was euthanasia. They know that there are other people who have reviled them for this choice but they made it knowing how terrified their dog was; that everything they could think of and tried did not help or alleviate the problem; and that their dog was seriously hurting himself in his extreme fear - and no matter what they did, there was always the risk that a storm could come when no one was home to help minimize the risk.

 

If someone who cares like you do, has finally exhausted all reasonable (for your situation, mentally, physically, and financially) options, and feels that euthanasia is the only option left to relieve this dog of these terrors, there is no shame in that alternative. You also have to consider your own health and well-being - you also have others dependent on you to consider.

 

If the right person would and could take this dog on, and you could be positive that they would never do less than you can do for him but rather could do more (retired, perhaps, or otherwise in a position to be with him 24/7 and try other options that you might not be able to try), then that would be a possible alternative.

 

Very best wishes, and hoping that you can find a solution that works for all concerned, and not feel guilt over that choice if it has to be euthanasia. You should not feel guilty in any way.

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Very best wishes, and hoping that you can find a solution that works for all concerned, and not feel guilt over that choice if it has to be euthanasia. You should not feel guilty in any way.

 

Thanks Sue. In my head I know you're right, but I like this dog, and my heart pulls me the other way, and so I spend more money and sleepless nights thinking about how I could make life better for him. I've always had an aversion to euthanizing a healthy dog, but here comes into question, the concept of "healthy". Physically, he's fine, but is he mentally healthy?

 

I only ever euthanized for behavioral issues, one other dog, and it was a serious situation, one where he had gotten to the point of becoming a liability, and that was Sam, a young adult, I'd venture to say a bc cross. Sam put me in the hospital with a well-aimed bite at my hand. I now have a plate and 3 screws in that hand. The dog in question here doesn't have any issues with people. He likes people. There has never ever been any questionable behavior with me or other people and most other dogs. However, the 2 in my house he dislikes, it becomes a battle to the end, if he has his way.

 

As I type this, he is in the dog pen right now, with another dog and he's playing in the kiddie pool. A happy dog.

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Have you tried drugs? Like Valium?

 

Not valium, but clonazapam. Little effect, so maybe a stronger drug like valium would work. It's crossed my mind. The problem is, do I pop a valium down his throat just in case the weather forecast is correct in predicting thunderstorms while I'm at work? It might be doable if I were home, but I work M-F. And I would worry about the effects of leaving a dog at home unsupervised while drugged. Besides, the effects of valium might wear off from the time I left for work and a thunderstorm possibly rolling through later in the day. See where I'm coming from?

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Another way of looking at this dog's problems is, you might say, his thunderphobia, is seasonal. During the winter he is quite content to lie on his blankets in the back hall with his two other buddies. He's quiet, for the most part, and content. No T-storms during the winter -- so he's got some good months in his life.

 

However, his hatred for the two other dogs is not seasonal. His desire to jump the other two dogs is always "on".

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Not valium, but clonazapam. Little effect, so maybe a stronger drug like valium would work. It's crossed my mind. The problem is, do I pop a valium down his throat just in case the weather forecast is correct in predicting thunderstorms while I'm at work? It might be doable if I were home, but I work M-F. And I would worry about the effects of leaving a dog at home unsupervised while drugged. Besides, the effects of valium might wear off from the time I left for work and a thunderstorm possibly rolling through later in the day. See where I'm coming from?

 

I do see where you're coming from, but I'd ask your vet about some and try it out on a weekend or evening when you are there. I use valium for Kipp during thunderstorms and the only change I see in him is that he is happy and relaxed. I know how he reacts to it and now I'd have no issues giving it to him if I were gone.

 

Part two is since I've been using it, his thunderphobia has improved. I used to give him the valim and crate him in the basement. Now for a mild storm I can just crate him in the basement and he is fine. He hears the storm, goes to his crate and curls up to sleep instead of his pacing, shaking "what do I do!?!?" attitude. The valium helped him develop a coping mechanism.

 

In Dr Overall's article on Storm Phobia she recommends Xanax which often isn't as sedating as valium and has a longer anti anxiety effect.

 

I guess IMO for a dog like this, medication could be the difference between life and death. So maybe it is worth it in this case trying to medicate if there is a chance of a storm in hopes that it might help him.

 

ETA - Here is an article that talks about using Melatonin for thunderphobia that may be a simple option worth trying in this case

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Well, the aggression does put another iron in the fire. What is best for your dogs' welfare? I wish you well with whatever decision you feel is right (or, at best, "most right") for this dog and your household.

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There are several drugs you could use for the thunderphobia, but any used should include counter conditioning. And from what it sounds like he needs something that could help generalized anxiety. I use a thundershirt on my one dog and she has gotten MUCH better but still takes drugs. Sever thunderphobia takes an owner who is dedicated so if you were to rehome him, think about that.

 

As for the aggression I have to ask is he neutered? That might help. Rehoming is an option except for the thunderphobia.

 

Is he picking the fights, is he easily aroused? If the later then some of the anti-anxiety drugs may help with that.

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Different dogs respond differently to the various drugs. In your situation I would look for drugs that the dog will take 24/7; valium is to be used administered right before storms and can be used in conjunction with anti-anxiety drugs.

 

If your dog is not hurting himself you could try different dog crates that will stand up to his escape efforts. Furrari crates have doors with metal bars that wrap around the top and bottom of the crate making it very difficult to push or pull the door open.

 

From my limited experience any additional stress on the dog will make it more likely to respond to storms. If you can reduces stresses in other areas it may help lessen the reaction to storms.

 

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There are several drugs you could use for the thunderphobia, but any used should include counter conditioning. And from what it sounds like he needs something that could help generalized anxiety. I use a thundershirt on my one dog and she has gotten MUCH better but still takes drugs. Sever thunderphobia takes an owner who is dedicated so if you were to rehome him, think about that.

 

As for the aggression I have to ask is he neutered? That might help. Rehoming is an option except for the thunderphobia.

 

Is he picking the fights, is he easily aroused? If the later then some of the anti-anxiety drugs may help with that.

 

I agree that he has generalized anxiety. I had placed him once, but he was back in a month because everytime the owner left the dog would bark. and bark and bark. And neighbors complained. That was the only reason he came back. He did well otherwise.

 

Yes, he's neutered. He has been up for adoption. On my Pet finder site, my descriptions of adoptable dogs state the bad & emphasize the good. People need to know exactly what they are bringing into their homes, and I guess most people deemed poor Fletch as too much of a challenge.

 

Re: Thundershirt -- as hot and humid as it's been, I don't want to put another layer on this dogs body, although while I'm home I could use it for short periods of time when needed.

 

Picking fights -- yes with the 2 dogs he hates. Yes. Easily aroused - yes.

 

I might also add that his kennel mate is like his underling and if there is something that arouses the both of them, the kennel mate catches it. Nothing physically harmful or serious, but just gets jumped on and pushed around with a lot of snarky noises.

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If the dog is determined the best is a military dog heavy duty type crate. These are the big metal ones with extra secure doors. I've found furrari as likely as any to have the doors torn off by the thunderphobic. and if you need to replace a door it has to be ordered from the company as you cannot purchase them in pet stores or wholesalers. Additionally if the screws are not in the sides the whole crate would be fairly easy for the determined thunderphobic to get out of.

 

Additionally if your thunderphobic is one that feels the need to bolt during the storm then confinement will only make him worse as he will feel trapped. In addition to the thundershirt there is a calming cap (made by Premier pet products, not the sheep place)that has offered some good results.( during bad storms I use both).

 

As Mark said the drug does have to be determined by your dog's needs. And in the early stages monitoring it helps alot. The dosages are not the equilivant to the human dosage so if you have to get it from a pharmacy be prepared to do some explaining on the higher dosages (I have one pharmicist's who doubts my vet who orders my clonadine). Counter conditioning helps with any drug used for behaviour mod and will help reduce your dog's anxiety faster than without.

True thunderphobia is very difficult to live with. I know the dog I have would have been put to sleep by many if not most people. I have learned tons about dealing with thunderphobia from her and continue to learn.

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Here's a pic of the perp. Fletcher.

 

15.jpg

 

I have an appointment with the vet and I have no doubt she'd be willing to discuss anti-anxiety meds. I agree that maybe he needs a general medication that he takes every day and then something extra for when t-storms roll through. My other thunderphobic dog, Chuck, I have found the place he does best in is his dog where he heads to his crate and curls up in there. That's his safe place. Fletcher does well in my car during a thunderstorm. But the car is available only when I'm home.

 

I might add that if there were the slightest hint of human aggression, that would be all the excuse I'd need to euthanize him and save myself anxiety, wear and tear on my property, and $$ - to replace the property damaged during thunderphobic episodes and vet bills when he claws his way in and comes face to face with his two arch enemies. Yeh, it's that bad.

 

We have a vet appointment for him anyway. I'm having him partially debarked. He'll still have a voice but the volume will be cranked down a few notches. It's then that I'll discuss medication options for him.

 

Also, just yesterday, I took back a littermate to one of the dogs he hates. This dog, Jack, is 8 yrs. old, neutered, a stranger to my pack, but I was able to put him in the dog pen with Fletch and they were fine together.

 

So I think Fletcher has enough going for him to justify these efforts I'm making on his behalf. He really is a nice dog overall. He just needs someone who is willing and has the time to work with him.

 

Just a little Fletcher story. The guy that adopted him would spend a lot of one on one time with Fletch and they played this game. You know that trick where something is put under 3 cups on a table and then they are quickly moved around & then you have to guess which cup holds the object. They'd play that. Fletch on one side of the table. Owner on the other side. Fletch would either take his paw or push with his nose one of the cups and he was never wrong. He LOVED that game. He loves using his mind.

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I have a bitch that reacts to thunderstorms, gun shots, fireworks ect. I do use a thundershirt which helps turn on a radio crate her... I also use a phermone spray DAP that has a calming effect. I found leaving lights ON during a storm helps a ton. The flashes of lightening bother her way more than I would have expected. With a light left on there are no big "flashes" I found this out one night when we were all in bed and she started acting like it was storming. It wasn't so I looked around the house to find out what set her off. It was the computer I left on with photos flashing across the screen. The room would be light then dark and light again.

 

Jefferspet.com is a great place to find heavy duty metal crates. They are much studier than ones at Walmart ect. I have several crates from them that are 25 years old and look like new where the lighter black matel crates I have had under 5 years have welds that are broken, wires bend, rust ect.

 

Good Luck

 

Denice

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Here's a pic of the perp. Fletcher.

 

15.jpg

 

I have an appointment with the vet and I have no doubt she'd be willing to discuss anti-anxiety meds. I agree that maybe he needs a general medication that he takes every day and then something extra for when t-storms roll through. My other thunderphobic dog, Chuck, I have found the place he does best in is his dog where he heads to his crate and curls up in there. That's his safe place. Fletcher does well in my car during a thunderstorm. But the car is available only when I'm home.

 

I might add that if there were the slightest hint of human aggression, that would be all the excuse I'd need to euthanize him and save myself anxiety, wear and tear on my property, and $$ - to replace the property damaged during thunderphobic episodes and vet bills when he claws his way in and comes face to face with his two arch enemies. Yeh, it's that bad.

 

We have a vet appointment for him anyway. I'm having him partially debarked. He'll still have a voice but the volume will be cranked down a few notches. It's then that I'll discuss medication options for him.

 

Also, just yesterday, I took back a littermate to one of the dogs he hates. This dog, Jack, is 8 yrs. old, neutered, a stranger to my pack, but I was able to put him in the dog pen with Fletch and they were fine together.

 

So I think Fletcher has enough going for him to justify these efforts I'm making on his behalf. He really is a nice dog overall. He just needs someone who is willing and has the time to work with him.

 

Just a little Fletcher story. The guy that adopted him would spend a lot of one on one time with Fletch and they played this game. You know that trick where something is put under 3 cups on a table and then they are quickly moved around & then you have to guess which cup holds the object. They'd play that. Fletch on one side of the table. Owner on the other side. Fletch would either take his paw or push with his nose one of the cups and he was never wrong. He LOVED that game. He loves using his mind.

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We have a vet appointment for him anyway. I'm having him partially debarked. He'll still have a voice but the volume will be cranked down a few notches. It's then that I'll discuss medication options for him.

 

If the barking is anxiety related, which it sounds like it is, maybe try the right combination of drugs before you go such an extreme route like debarking. Hopefully the drugs will help. Debarking him only solves YOUR problem, it doesn't solve anything for the dog. Debarking him is not going to make him like your dogs or not be scared of thunderstorms or not have separation anxiety.

 

Personally, if I had a foster dog that anxious and that problematic, I'd be more inclined to euthanize him than maim him surgically. He doesn't sound like a very good candidate for adoption anyway, and he certainly isn't happy in your home, what with the hate on for your dogs, and the thunder phobia isn't something you are in a position to deal with because you have to work for a living. So why make all of you suffer for one dog?

 

I realize it may seem hypcritical to some to consider euthanasia as being kinder than debarking, but imo debarking is just treating a symptom, and not addressing the real problem. If the dog has that much anxiety, and you can't resolve it with meds and/or behavioural therapy, what favours are you doing the dog? Especially if you start mulitating him for your own convenience instead.

 

If I were an adopter, I wouldn't consider a debarked dog ... all that would tell me is that his underlying issues have not been adequately addressed. Also, I'd be TOTALLY skeeved out by a *rescuer* who debarked a dog and probably wouldn't adopt from you at all.

 

I apologize Vicki; I probably sound harsh. I'm just really shocked that you're considering debarking a foster dog.

 

RDM

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Please don't worry about being harsh. It's not an easy situation and I appreciate cut-to-the-chase feedback. We're talking about a life here, one I think is worth saving, that and the other lives involved in this situation. What affects one, affects all of us. I'm not picking up my toys going anywhere. I came here asking for help and thank you to all of you who've responded.

 

I know debarking is extreme and if it were to leave a dog voiceless, I wouldn't do it. I have a partially debarked rescue dog who was pretty much unadoptable when he came to me. He's been with me 12 yrs. He barks, a lot, always has, never had an off switch, but you can live with it now. It was the last option before euthanasia for him.

 

I know that debarking is not only a last resort, but it's for the sake of the owner, not the dog and if it helps keep the dog warden from my door, so be it.

 

I do know Fletch has issues that must be addressed if he's to live. I've been agonizing about our situation for a long time. I like the dog, a lot. I've lost sleep over this situation and coming to the decision to debark him, even if partially, is not one I came to easily.

 

That's one of the reasons I brought these problems here, and based on the responses so far, I've cancelled his appointment. I'm going to try to work with him by taking the route of medications and a thundershirt. Fletch has come a long way since he came to me. I'm not giving up on him just yet and so if it happens that there is no home out there for him, he'll continue to live with me. I'm not ready to extinguish that light that shines in his eyes.

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Thanks Sue!

 

So, before deciding on which meds to put him on, would anything show up in bloodwork that might steer us in the right direction? We could do thyroid, but nothing about this dog screams "check his thyroid!" to me.

 

Right now it's bedtime. Everyone is in their place and Fletcher is quite happy in his new bedroom -- my car.

 

Regarding the debarking issue -- I'm not 100% against it. I'm glad the option is there if it's ever needed. However, when I made the decision in Fletcher's case, it was made under stressful circumstances. Oppressive heat & humidity (don't have air conditioning by choice, but I'm about to break down), thunderstorms several nights in a row (for some reason, t-storms seem to roll through here more frequently with a lot more force). Night t-storms, I might as well forget sleeping for the 2 dogs I have who spas out before the storm even hits. So, I'm functioning on very little sleep, I'm hot, stressed and miserable, barely staying awake at work, falling asleep at the wheel while driving to work. On my last nerve, so it was under those circumstances I made the decision to debark. At my wit's end. All that on top of my two old geezers, Tam, who is going on 15 this October, and Sligo, who will be 15 in December. Sligo had a stroke about 6 weeks ago. I made and appointment to euthanize him, but he rallied. He's doing better, a LOT better, but he won't be the dog he was before. Tam, is nearly entirely deaf and is going blind. It's only a matter of time, I know, but as long as the fight is in them, I'll fight right along with them. So it wasn't just one factor, it was a lot of stress in a relatively small period of time. I'm glad I came here to dump on you all because I'm feeling more grounded now.

 

Thank you.

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And, FWIW: I have a dog who was "debarked" before I got him and he can bark very loudly. Its not as high pitched, but he can bark a lot louder than I would have ever guessed a debarked dog could bark.

 

If this was your dog, I would suggest going to meds, then desensitization. However, this will take months. I wrote up what I did with my enormously destructive thunder-phobic Golden. It worked, but it was hard.

 

As this is a foster dog, I would think long and hard about if this dog is a good candidate for adoption. I'm not saying he isn't, but if his issues are this severe whats the reality about finding him a forever home who can deal with him? You have only so much energy and sanity...

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My Belle was sweet, gentle, loving, intelligent, and overall the most lovely dog I ever had... except during thunderstorms. I could literally watch the light of sanity go out behind her eyes during a storm. We used several remedies: Rescue Remedy, keeping her in a well-lit room, Ativan, melatonin, even soothing music. In the end, a combination of Rescue Remedy (about 16 drops), soft music, and Ativan gave her the most relief. I only went with the Ativan because I was quite certain that she was going to have a stroke if she didn't calm down and I'd rather have seen her in drugged sleep than dead of a stroke. It did seem to get better with time. She was a puppy mill survivor, nine when we adopted her, and almost thirteen when she died in May. She seemed much calmer this spring during the few storms we had before she died. I'm praying you find an answer for your boy!

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