Many dogs are terrified of thunderstorms. My own dog is one of them; I hate seeing him so distressed when the weather is wild. He trembles and hides, and won’t come out until the storm has passed. When you love your dog, you want to help them through a storm. Here are some ideas that may help.
Some dogs that aren’t terribly frightened may just need the sight and sound of the storms blocked. Close the doors and windows, and then use the radio or television to muffle the sounds of thunder. For many dogs, this just isn’t enough and you need to be a bit more proactive. The five “D”’s of managing your dog in thunderstorms are listed below.
Dogs feel safe and secure if they have their own den to settle into when they’re nervous. This could be a comfortable crate or a corner in a room in your house. My dog likes to curl up in the bottom of my linen cupboard when it’s stormy. Whatever space your dog prefers, make sure they can get there quickly. A spray or two of the dog appeasing pheromone Adaptil can help to reduce anxiety; it doesn’t have any side effects.
The theory behind desensitization is that if you let your dog listen to the sounds of thunderstorms, starting at a low volume and building gradually, while rewarding them with treats for staying calm, they’ll associate storms with treats and be less stressed. This can be helpful, but isn’t often a complete solution. It appears that dogs are sensitive to not just the noise of storms but to the changes in air pressure, and you can’t reproduce that in a compact disc. This technique is inexpensive and safe, so it’s still worth trying with Fido.
If you can distract your dog with his favorite game as the storm approaches, he may be less stressed. It’s important that if you’re going to try this technique, that you do so well before the storm is above you and your dog is panicking. By that stage, your dog is likely to be way too anxious to be distracted. If you can keep their mind off the approaching weather with a game, it may reduce their stress and teach them that fun things happen during stormy weather.
Some people claim that a Thundershirt, a snugly fitting dog coat, helps to reduce anxiety during thunderstorms. Others feel it doesn’t make a lot of difference. This is one of those things that may help and has no side effects, so there’s no harm in trying it out. If your budget doesn’t stretch to buying a Thundershirt, you can find some information on the internet about wrapping your dog, which may have a similar effect.
Some people are concerned about the use of drugs for anxiety in dogs. However, they can make a big difference in how your pup copes with a thunderstorm. Sedatives or anti-anxiety medication can help them to relax until the skies are clear again. If you’d like to see if drugs could help your dog, chat with your vet about the available options and try out the medication well before you need to rely on it. Some dogs have an unusual reaction to some drugs, so you need to know that the medication will be helpful rather than making things worse for you both.
Thunderstorm phobia is distressing for both dogs and pet parents. Give these suggestions a try; they may make the stormy months easier for your furry companion.