My cocker spaniel is a 7 year old male. Yesterday he had some type of seizure but I actually think this is his second one.
He is also a nervous dog. He doesn't like loud noises and when it's thundering, he sort of hyperventilates. If he is in his kennel at night I have to let him out of it and he is all over me.
What can I do for him and what causes this?
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
What a cutie! I can't bear the thought of him cowering during thundery storms. Let's see if we can help him, shall we?
I'm assuming that your vet has advised you about your Cocker's seizures - so that's covered.
We can usually help puppies become less nervous about their surroundings by good socialization, but it must be carried out when they're still young puppies. You can learn about socializing a puppy here.
I was lucky enough to be given a puppy training CD with various sounds on it; thunder and lightening, loud bangs, sirens, children crying, dogs barking, bleepers, telephones, etc. I played this to Max during the day, even when he was napping, and it has worked very well as he takes most things and situations in his stride - not a lot phases him!
Playing the sound of thunder to your dog, at a very low level, may help. As he begins to ignore the sound, you can gradually increase the volume at each session until he's fully de-sensitized to the it.
Unfortunately, some dogs are simply nervous dogs and you may have to help him through it each time.
I recommend you try one or all of the following:
Next time you have a thunderstorm, don't make too much fuss about the storm, and don't reassure him, otherwise you may be reinforcing your dog's fear, but give him a cuddle and a few small treats. This will help him to associate cuddles and treats with loud noises.
Put the radio or television on, you choose, it may be enough to distract him from the thunder and/or it may soften the sound.
If your cocker is normally crated and shows signs of wanting to retreat to his crate, just let him go. I'd recommend covering the crate with a blanket - just leave a small gap at the entrance - to make it feel more 'cozy and safe' for him. If he hasn't got a crate, I'd recommend one as there are many excellent benefits of crate training a puppy or dog.
Your post says that when it's thundering your dog tries to get out of his kennel (I'm assuming his kennel is inside and not outdoors?) - if it's inside, why not cover it and see if he still wants out?
If he's really bad and you can't console him in any way, you could consider speaking to your vet about sedatives to help calm him down or a dog behaviorist to help you work it out.