Thunder

Many dogs harbor a distinct fear of thunder. Whether the fear stems from changes in barometric pressure or the sheer intensity of the noise is often debated, but there's no mistaking a dog's reaction to it. Panting, pacing, tub-sitting, or tearing at enclosures are all signs of anxiety of differing intensities.

When helping your dog overcome her fear of thunder, stay calm, cool, and collected. Keep her on a leash, or a head collar to avoid choking, and act like it's a sunny day. Be the example of serenity; your dog will be impressed.

CONSTRUCTION

The loud, erratic sounds and strange machinery found on construction sites combine to create a scene that can put the hair up on any dog's back. First, handle your dog at a distance she's comfortable with, treating her for responding to your direction. As she gains confidence, move toward these sites. Continue to direct and reward her. If your dog becomes suddenly timid, move away from the site, and then work your way back.

SIRENS

Many dogs are startled by the sound of a siren. In fact, the myriad sounds of a city can make it a confusing environment and an impossible place for your dog to relax. Consider your dog's hearing when a siren passes close by: cover her ears with your hands. Introduce your dog to urban sounds in a controlled fashion. Train or play with her near a fire station at noon, for example: you'll both hear the noon whistle blow!

Although it's tempting to soothe a dog at the sound of a siren, that reaction often has the reverse effect—your soft tones and bent posture convey fear, not reassurance, to your dog.

TRAIN WHISTLES

The same rules apply here as with sirens. If you live near a train track, you'll also want to train your dog to run from the train (and not chase it) when she sees one coming. For tips on how to approach that task, flip to page 185 and follow the instructions for car chasing.

If train stations are to be a part of your life, it will be helpful to do several training sessions there to ensure your dog's focus and her confidence in your direction regardless of the distractions.

FIREWORKS

Although fireworks are likely to light up the night sky only once a year, that single day claims the sanity of many dogs, who run off or claw the house in utter terror. Start by introducing light fireworks in the daylight, mingling with your dog at a distance at which she feels comfortable, and using treats to develop a positive association. Gradually increase your dog's accessibility to fireworks. Do not, however, shoot them at your dog. As she gets more confident, you can try an evening display.

Note: When moving closer to a distraction, use the direction HEEL and keep your dog behind you. Your forward position communicates that you—and not she—will be the protector.

Why does my dog seem to get even more nervous when I tell her, "It's okay?"

Your dog interprets the high pitch of your voice as a whine, your focus as a sign of confusion, and your body posture as submissive. Stand tall, be positive and relaxed, and your confidence will surely rub off on her.

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