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My 10-year-old mixed dog has developed quite the arcane fear, she fears power outages.

Whether it happens when it's dark (when all of the lights turn off at the same time), or during the day (in which case, the sound of the wireless phone losing signal from the dock station gives it away), she would start shaking, tail between her legs, come to us for protection.

Now my dog is a burly dog, she stood her ground against dogs several times her size, she can take on anything and doesn't seem to be afraid of anything (loud bangs, fireworks, even a recent war with alarms and rocket whistles and explosions), nothing except for this.

None of us (the family members) are behaving nervously during an outage, and it seemed to just happen to her one day.

What could the cause be, how can I even begin to diagnose it, I hate seeing her like this.

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    Your animal clearly has a fear of not having internet access ;) – Lix Oct 11 '13 at 19:56
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    even a recent war with alarms and rocket whistles and explosions forget about the dog, that is just something I am glad I don't have to worry about – psubsee2003 Oct 11 '13 at 23:29
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    @psubsee2003: Heh, we had that in 2006, I live in Israel. None of us were too phased by it though, neither did she. – Madara Uchiha Oct 12 '13 at 7:29
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    Do any other sounds stop when the power goes out? I'm thinking the hum from air conditioning, buzz from electrical lights, compressor on a refrigerator, anything like that.. the dog could be reacting to the sudden absence of an expected, comforting sound. – PeterL Oct 31 '13 at 15:03
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    Debugging suggestion: if you think it's the loss of a familiar, comforting sound, try throwing breakers one at a time (to eliminate those sounds in isolation) until you find it. Of course, that only works if it's a single sound going away that causes the problem. – Monica Cellio Feb 9 '14 at 14:18
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The fire alarm and battery UPS will sometimes beep when power is lost. Even if this had only happened once in your dog's past, the link between power outage and beeping is set in stone and can trigger anxiety. The beeping may not happen in subsequent outages, but some part of him is expecting it. My dog practically climbs on top of my head when he hears the UPS or fire alarm beeping due to low batteries.

  • You know? We actually had UPS at some point, and it did beep a horribly annoying sound for a couple of minutes when power was lost. That may be it. Do you know any way to mitigate it? – Madara Uchiha Feb 9 '14 at 6:56
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    @MadaraUchiha If this is really the reason, you need to re-program. Meaning: "power outages" without beeping every other day. And: ignore the dog when it is showing signs of fear. (This one is hard, I know.) – Ingo Feb 10 '14 at 15:24
  • @Ingo I don't think ignoring the dog would help. Instead comforting her makes the bond to her owner stronger and creates trust. You wouldn't ignore a three year old child when it is afraid, would you? – Lehue Mar 15 at 7:12
  • @Lehue It depends: if the 3yo is afraid not to get chocolate, then yes, I would ignore it. If it is genuinely afraid about something it doesn't understand yet, then of course no. But you can't compare the emotional needs of a Human and a Dog. The dog is never afraid because of ghosts, darkness, etc. and it will just look what your reaction is when it fears something. OTOH, it will do the most absurd things to get attention, be it showing signs of fear. – Ingo Mar 17 at 23:20
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    @Lehue I don't deny what you say entirely. The problem with this may be that one needs to be truely unafraid. For example, when you have a small dog and meet a Rottweiler, it may be that you comfort your dog (by taking it up, maybe) because you are fearing what could happen when the Rottweiler attacks. Don't think ypur dog won't notice! – Ingo Mar 20 at 8:40
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Your dog may get scared of a power outage because he/she does not understand what is going on. Phobias may be accompanied by property destruction or physical endangerment of the affected pet or the people around him. (Source : Terrified of power outages)

Now in addition to that, No matter how scared your dog is of something, you can help him resolve his fear. It is best to call in an expert.

First go to your veterinarian, who can resolve health problems that might be causing your dog's fear.

Also, consider seeing an animal behaviorist or professional dog trainer. Desensitization therapies and behavior modification can help your dog get over his fears.

Also see : Causes of Fear in Dogs

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Not sure if I should be helping an Hidden Leaf, Uchiha clan member, especially one as infamous as Madara, but here goes...

One of the comments mentioned the absence of a comforting sound, as well one of the responses mentioned the UPS of Fire Alarm beeping. That is the symptom of the power outage that the dog is noticing. Additionally, dogs can hear very high pitched noises, e.g. fluorescent lights, sodium lights buzzing are easily heard by dogs. Not unlike the hairs on your neck raising when you step out into a thick fog where the usual traffic, trees, grass and animal sounds are absent; a dog also senses this absence and triggers a warning response. It is the same reaction that, in the wild, will keep a wild dog hunkered down in the den when a thunderstorm goes overhead. So Akamaru might be able to fearlessly fight off armies of kunai wielding ninjas, but unless the he has been conditioned to not be fearful of lightning, Akamaru will still cower at something far less dangerous. Similarly, the military dogs (and hunting dogs) are trained as a puppy to be less sensitive to gun shots, where as my labs go slinking under the desk every year close to the Fourth of July (here in the States).

As far as conditioning goes (and I can't imagine why you would want to waste the time) just turn off the breaker for a few hours randomly throughout the day until the dog becomes accustomed to the event.

  • My dog's named "Kurama" by the way. – Madara Uchiha Feb 9 '14 at 17:12
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I have 4 Jack Russells. Only one(1) of them is affected by a power outage. All of the above theories do not address the fact that my outage is usually off and back on again in a nano second, (in the blink of an eye) so the "absence of comforting sounds" theory is not what I think is the trigger for this behavior. I have a larger UPS that kicks in (and cuts off) even if only for a nano second. I believe it may have something to do with some type of electrical energy or pulse (possibly Electro magnetic) that dogs can actually feel. All of us know that our human energy "transmits" to dogs and most animals. Of course I am not sure about all of this,, but that's my best guess. Before closing, I would like to share one small piece of advice. Do not, do not coddle, hold, console, pet, or talk to your dog as this will only serve to nurture the behavior and thus, the behavior can only intensify. The best remedy I can offer is to go on a long fast walk. I am an Equine/Canine Behaviorist...

  • Please do not use all caps. The online community considers this the equivilant of screaming in someone's face. I edited your post to change the words to a mix of, grammer correct, upper and lower case. – elbrant Mar 13 at 4:21

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