David was usually laid-back, so Bertie must have been distressed when he charged up and down in a storm.
‘It’s frightening him,’ I told my husband.
‘You’ll have to stay outside when you storm watch.’
To help Bertie overcome his fear, we needed to do some behaviour therapy – like counselling for dogs!
David’s weather app warned us when the next storm was due. That morning, I gave Bertie some anti-anxiety medication. Then, when the storm hit I distracted him with the help of our sons, Oliver, 13, and Michael, nine. They played fetch and got down on the floor with him.
Bertie was so excited licking their faces, he didn’t notice the thunder rumbling above. I also did some basic commands, like roll over, wait and shake. ‘See, nothing to worry about,’ I soothed, giving Bertie a treat after each one. In the background, we kept the television at its regular volume. ‘That way everything seems normal,’ I told my kids.
Bertie is three now and no longer needs the medication before a storm. I’m thrilled the therapy worked for him. Now all we have to do is keep him busy when the weather takes a turn.
Thanks to counselling, we have a much more peaceful pooch!
Originally published in that's life! Issue 28, 2016.