Storm Defender Dog Cape – Part 3

I can’t believe that a whole year has passed since I last posted about our dog Dakota and her fear of thunderstorms. In Part 1 of our dog’s fear of thunderstorms, we ordered the Storm Defender Dog Cape. In Part 2 of our dog’s storm fear saga, we took you through the weeks following the arrival of the Storm Defender Dog Cape.

Our concern that Dakota’s storm fears would revert her back to her original bad behavior of pottying in the house and chewing up everything in sight turned out to be groundless. Once we had solved those dog problems, she remained solid. We now have no fear whatsoever that our dog will chew up or potty in the house, even if we leave her alone for several hours, and even if it’s storming out. She can also be trusted at other people’s houses now, she’s that good.

As good as she is with pottying, chewing, barking, and other dog issues that plague dog owners, we never did succeed in getting her past the fear of storms. I believe that the lightning strike so close to home was just too much for her to overcome, on top of my husband’s habit of soothing her fears.

Not once has our dog ever come to my side of the bed and pestered me when the fear of storms grabbed hold of her. She has never woken me up as I was solid from day one on NOT petting her from bed, or acknowledging her in any way after getting into bed. Once my feet came off the floor, I completely ignored the dogs.

On the other side of the bed, my husband with his big soft heart could not resist the sorrowful eyes, forlorn expressions, or the wagging tails of happy dogs who were being petted. Every night they went to him just before lights out, and he’d reach out and pet them.

For his soft heart he suffered a lot. Every time there was a storm, Dakota went to his side of the bed and either nudged him, poked him, or centered herself on the creaky floor and paced until he woke up. She hadn’t started out being a pest, but once he fed into it by coddling her, she escalated it. Storm nights for him were sleepless stretches of misery because if the dog wasn’t happy, she was going to make damn sure that Daddy wasn’t happy either.

Confining her to the bathroom, which she seemed to like, was one solution that got utilized a lot. I hated it, but we had to sleep and she wouldn’t let us sleep otherwise. The dog kept my husband awake, and he in turn kept me awake. The only one who was unaffected was our other dog, Sierra, who slept soundly through the whole night no matter what the rest of us were doing.

On a couple of occasions we locked our fearful dog Dakota out of the bedroom and gave her run of the entire rest of the house. She seemed happy with that option as well, which brought up an interesting observation. When we first adopted her, she did NOT want to come to bed with us. She fought it every step of the way. While she loved the bedroom during waking hours and adopted it as her private den, she did NOT want any part of our bedroom at night. Maybe we snored too loud, who knows?

As she was in training to be the perfect dog, she didn’t get a choice in the matter. We did not trust her with full run of the house unsupervised in the beginning, so at night she was relegated to our bedroom. She had full run of the bedroom, which seemed to us an incredibly big gesture for a dog who at that time was problematic. We did not crate her at night, or pen her up, but instead brought her into the bedroom and closed the door. She HATED it and we had to literally drag her into the bedroom in those early days.

Eventually she got the message and came in on her own, but she never liked it. She didn’t want to be there but she put up with it, not having a choice in the matter.

Once she was solid and we trusted her 100%, I realized that there was no reason not to give her the choice. She had earned the right to make her own decision, and there wasn’t a single reason for us to say NO to her nightly request not to join us in the bedroom. She didn’t chew, bark, or potty, so why not reward her good behavior with freedom? She had freedom from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed, so why not at night, too?

That has become our solution to her nighttime storm angst. Allowing our dog to spend the night on the opposite side of the closed bedroom door has allowed us to get a good night’s sleep, and she seems happier with the option. I know the solution doesn’t help any of you, but at least you know that you are not alone with dogs having storm fears. Even then, however, the Storm Defender saga did not end — read on with Part 4. (Originally posted on July 11, 2012.)

Storm Defender Dog Cape – Part 1
Storm Defender Dog Cape – Part 2
Storm Defender Dog Cape – Part 3
Storm Defender Dog Cape – Part 4

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Dakota was a semi-adult shelter dog who was the Queen of Bad Behavior and the Master of Dirty Tricks. Bad Dog to Best Friend takes you from Dakota’s awful beginnings to her amazing transformation.

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