What can be done about a phobic pet?

Phobic Pet Greyhounds are a clean slate about encountering new things we take for granted in every day life. Sometimes when they experience new sights, sounds or smell it can trigger a fear. They do sometimes have “flash backs” to a situation they have had on the track which was painful or frightening.

They may never recover

Quite often they will have a fear of thunderstorms and there are several possible solutions. Phobic pets may never recover from their fear.

One theory is that animals sense the static charge in the atmosphere as a storm approaches. You can calm these feelings by rubbing their coat with a dryer sheet. This helps to neutralize the sensation of electricity.

My Mr. T would head for the bathroom in the center of the house. He would curl himself around the toilet and hunker down until the storm was over. I think being away from windows and the tile walls helped to insulate him from the noise and vibration of the storm. A typical example of a phobic pet.

Another friend of ours has a big male greyhound that stands in the bath tub. He pants almost uncontrollably so being in the bath tub is a good thing since when he pants he drools.

They will lash out at you

Never try to comfort a greyhound when they are in this state. They may be so frightened that they will lash out at you. But more importantly don’t reward bad behavior. If you try to hug and soothe them they will believe that this is acceptable behavior. Just go about your normal activities showing them there is nothing wrong or to be afraid of. Remember your parents telling you it was just the angels bowling?

A man with a very deep voice can sometimes be frightening for a greyhound. To a phobic pet it may sound like a growl. If you notice them shying away from anyone with a deep voice, try a high pitched happy voice, it might just do the trick.

Greyhounds are used to being transported

Some other breeds may have a fear of riding in a car, usually because the ride ended up at the Vet’s office. Greyhounds are used to being transported from track to track so they are very unlikely to be fearful of the car. If they do show signs of anxiety about traveling make sure you bring them to a “fun” place for them so the experience is a positive one.

None of my greyhounds ever had a problem with going in the car. All I have to do is tell them “Road Trip” and they jump right in and off we go.

Take a page from the people that train Show Dogs, they expose these dogs to any type of experience they may encounter. That way when a stressful situation occur the dog will know how to react. Reducing stress for a phobic pet is very important.

Individual personalities

Never assume that any two greyhounds, or any other pet, will have the same personality as another greyhound. They are as different as two people or two children in the same family.Just like children raised in the same household will assimilate like characteristics, greyhounds that live together will also assume similar behavior. Their individual personalities will dictate just how they will cope with stressful situations.

Friends of ours who adopted a greyhound puppy after they had an adult greyhound for a few years really saw just how different they can be. Shiraz was out going and full of spunk and adventure, she adapted to living in a New York City apartment, obedience training and therapy dog training. I always said she had a “presence” that was captivating.

The greyhound puppy, Buffett, was difficult, even for a greyhound puppy. He was a little difficult to house train and just hated being put in a crate. He was adopted at just a few weeks of age and came into a loving home to people who understood dogs.. Shiraz did step up as a foster Mom and try to discipline him when he became too rambunctious. But you could tell that he was getting on her nerves.

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Thunder, fireworks and loud banging noises

Growing up he did calm down some but other problems began to emerge. Thunder, fireworks and loud banging noises would send him into a tizzy. Separation anxiety became so severe that he actually chewed his way out of the house, almost ate the interior of a car. The most traumatic incident came when he tried to run through a fence and got his head stuck between the bars. He twisted and pulled his head out of the fence so forcefully that he ripped several teeth out of the side of his mouth. Can you imagine the fear he must have had to endure that much pain? Reminds me of the hiker who cut off his own arm to save his life.

It is said that emotional pain is more traumatic than physical pain. In some experiments researchers found that dogs would rather endure physical pain than the emotional pain in the loneliness of being separated from their people.

Vibrate when a storm was happening

We recently had a female greyhound visitor who had become apprehensive during thunder storms. Her people told me that she would begin to almost vibrate when a storm was happening. They said she would just want to be near them and they did not try to reward the behavior with any petting.

Of course while she was here for her weeks vacation there was a thunder storm. My girls don’t mind storms so they just continued their morning nap during the storm. Trixie did search me out and came to be close to me. I sat in our sun room which has windows on two sides and wonderful views of the weather. Trixie saw that Harpy and Paulie Girl were very calm which definitely dictated the acceptable behavior and found a nice spot to lie down where she could still see me but was an interior room more insulated from noise.

People and animals run from danger and seek out friends and comfort when we are lonely or frightened. By showing Trixie that there was no danger she received comfort. This will not “cure” the fear of thunder but it reinforces that there is no danger. Also doing familiar things with a phobic pet, like playing with a toy, working on a chewy bone or practicing activities learned in an obedience class will help them forget the scary things that are going on outside.

There are pet therapists

In extreme cases when the dog experiences anxiety to the degree of hurting themselves or others you may need to consult your Vet. There are pet therapists who teach desensitization therapy which can sometimes be done at home. Don’t endanger yourself or other pets if the behavior is severe.

The Beer Boys

Sometimes a phobic pet can be really amusing. Our first three greyhounds, collectively known as the Beer Boys, were such creatures of habit that any change in the household arrangement caused minor panic. It would only last as long as it took them to realize that nothing drastic was wrong. The most amusing event was the first Christmas with our Boys. We went out to get a Christmas tree and were a little concerned that it would be deemed indoor plumbing for the Boys.

They were still taking their morning nap in bedroom when we brought the tree in the house. I was moving some furniture around so we could set up the tree in the front of our picture window. The Boys heard us and came down the hall to see what was going on—low and behold the furniture configuration was CHANGED!! They ran back to the bedroom and spent the rest of the afternoon tip toeing down the hall to take a peek at what was going on.

By the time we had the tree set up and decorated they were comfortable with the fact that there were different places to lie down and there was this outside object which is now inside. Thankfully they did not see this as indoor plumbing, the cats on the other hand found the low hanging ornaments as wonderful things to play with.

Consulting a vet about a phobic pet may be the best option.

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