Robin and I were at a new Home Dog Training client last Tuesday over in Lithonia.  He had a one year old German Shepherd that he had rescued from the local Humane Society.  We were excited to help because we have rescued two German Shepherds.  The Shepherd’s name was Albert and, like many Shepherds, he was headstrong and was always “pushing the boundaries”.  We quickly got this bad behavior under control by setting limits, establishing clear and consistent rules, and developing our client’s proper leadership skills.  Albert, as with most Shepherds, was fine with giving focus and respect to our client and our client was thrilled with the results.  We also worked on some basic commands such as come, sit, and walking.  Everything was great and our client was excited to work on the exercises we had provided in order to continue the learning process for both he and Albert.  As we were leaving, it was starting to look like rain and that reminded our client of another issue with Albert.  it seemed that he was very afraid of the summer thunder storms.  Since we live in Georgia and it is summer, we can probably expect thunder storms several times a week.  Our client wanted to know how he could help Albert and stop all the whining, panting, pacing, and otherwise annoying behaviors do to the storms.  He had tried to comfort Albert, but that seemed to make it even worse…

I explained to my client that what we had just taught him will go a long way in solving Albert’s fear of thunderstorms.  His big problem was that he had previously responded to Albert’s fear as if he were human.  As we had just discussed during the “lecture part” of our lesson, he must deal with Albert understanding that he is a dog.  A dog’s understanding and perception of comfort, safety, and protection is delivered differently than that for humans.

It is important to understand that the sights, sounds, and even the drop in barometric pressure could easily impact the temperament of our dog.  This could possibly cause him to become unsure and scared of what he thought was his safe environment.  Since we are his leader and care giver, he naturally comes to us for safety and assurance.  This now sets the stage for us to do the wrong thing.

When our dog comes to us, scared and whining, we naturally try to comfort him by making those baby noises and “getting all soft” with him.  If our dog would be our young son or daughter, this would be the absolute correct thing to do.  But he is a dog and he needs to reassured that everything is OK in a way that he will understand.

In this situation, I tell my clients that they must deal with their dog as if he were a dog and do the following:

When their dog comes to them because of the thunderstorm stuff, stand up, face him, and command him to sit or lie down.   Praise him by saying “good boy” when he obeys their command.  They should now continue with what ever they were previously doing. If their dog starts to whine again, stand up, face him, and give him a firm, low toned “No”.  Tell him to sit, praise him when he does, and they should then go about their work.

If their dog continues to whine, I want them to take a leash, click it on his collar, and briskly walk him around the room or the house. I instruct them to do this until their dog is completely focused on the walk and them and not the sights and sounds of the storm.  Once this takes place, they are to return to where they started, have their dog sit, and return to your work.  What I am having my clients do is to redirect their dog’s focus from the storm to them. They are calm and consistent in the situation and their dog will see that they are there and keeping them safe.

My client is now the boss and his appropriate presence should be all the reassurance his needs to know all is fine.

Try this out and I am sure you will be amazed with the results.  I have used this technique with our dogs for years and it works like a charm!

Please call Robin or myself at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Lithonia Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Lithonia Georgia.