Shelties can experience noise phobias among other fears. Over the years I have used several products that are purported to reduce stress of one sort or another.
There are a variety of options to use on a dog afraid of thunder, such as:CDs with desensitizing sounds
These are products that many people swear by.
The thundershirt uses compression to offer relief from anxiety.
This whole issue of compression seems to work well for a variety of animals not just canines.
As a matter of fact I read this fascinating book by an autistic woman (a PhD) who worked in animal husbandry and explained the whole thing quite well.
The theory behind the thundershirt's success is that the nerve endings of the body respond to compression in a wrap and calm the individual whether animal or human.
Regardless of the science behind it, many find it quite useful. you may want to give it a try when thunder is on the way. Less stress means a healthier Sheltie.
Another variation on a the theme of the thundershirt that seems to make sense is:
It has a metallic layer in the coat that discharges static electricity which may be the crux of the problem. Buy it on the small side and you get a thundershirt with the anti-static feature.
If you feel it is the noise alone causing the fear, try Mutt Muffs Hearing Protection for Dogs in various sizes
There are also CDs with desensitizing soundsused to slowly habituate Shelties with noise phobias, including a dog afraid of thunder.
The idea is to start with the sound very low, below the threshold that creates anxiety and slowly increase the volume over days or weeks.
Offering treats as long as there are no signs of stress may also help. Eventually, he stops reacting to the sounds.
In my case, I utilize the CDs for my litters of new puppies to hopefully prevent noise phobias since my household is generally a quiet one. Neither the dam nor the puppies seem to react to the sounds other than when the recording is barking. I on the other hand, want to bang my head against a brick wall after about 10 minutes.
Flower essences….Rescue Remedy is also a product many people swear by. Unfortunately, I have not seen any change in behavior with its use.
Another relatively new product is the Mutt Muffs Hearing Protection for Canines for a pup afraid of thunder. Expect to have to get him used to wearing this gadget the first few times. I have been told that after the pup realizes it reduces the noise, he accepts it with some amount of pleasure.
At any rate, my biggest recommendation in the context of a Sheltie afraid of thunder or any noise for that matter, is to NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE PHYSICAL ABILITY OF A PUP TO ESCAPE WHEN IT IS AFRAID.
When you can’t train away a bad reaction, at least manage the situation by protecting your Sheltie from harm.
The best option I can offer you that does work for me is to crate train your pup. A crate is good as long as the Sheltie can stand and turn around comfortably. No, my guys don’t live in crates, but they go in one when necessary. And eventually, you will need one.
The Fourth of July is one holiday that produces quite a few lost canines because they bolt in fear.
Summer thunderstorms are not only a noise stressor, but a dog afraid of thunder may also be reacting to the change in barometric pressure. The need to find a safe haven away from the sounds and perceived dangers is a strong motivator for any scared animal.
So, plan for the event by providing a safe, secure place that minimizes the sounds and is inescapable for your Sheltie.
Putting your Sheltie in the back yard is not good enough. The sound will be at its loudest there and he will be able to spend time digging under, climbing or leaping over fences.
My second biggest recommendation is that your presence can make it easier on him. Keep him on a leash with you to control the amount of pacing or put him in the crate next to you if necessary. Read a good book or watch TV to occupy yourself while keeping him company.
While we all want to extend our sympathy to any creature fearful or in pain, don’t coddle your puppy. Be there, offer support, but don’t feed into the fear.
If you act as if there is something to be afraid of, that just reinforces your Sheltie's behavior. Adopt the “WOW, how cool it THAT!” attitude about thunder and the “Hey, you’re OK” approach can go a long way in managing fear of thunder and fireworks.