The wind picks up, the skies darken, and you hear the rolling thunder in the distance... there’s a storm approaching and your pooch has fear in their eyes! Has your pet shown signs of anxiety during thunderstorms? We’re diving into what causes the jitters and what you can do to help them!
Dogs’ senses are much better than ours in many ways and you’re probably not surprised to find that they can sense a storm coming long before we do. They can feel the change in pressure, low-frequency rumbles, static electricity, and as we know their hearing is much better than ours as well. For this reason, your dog may become anxious before the storm even hits.
Your dog may have anxiety if they show the following symptoms:
-lowered ears and tail
-howling or whining
-having accidents inside
-in severe cases, destructive behavior such as scratching or biting at barriers like walls, kennels, etc.
While most dogs have mild anxiety towards storms, for some if they don’t get any help the severity may worsen as time goes on. So, let’s find out how we can settle our pups down and help them get over their fear!
How You Can Help
Stay up to date with your local weather to prepare your home for potential storms. Remember, our pets can pick up on the storms before we can, so being proactive will ease their worries! When you find out what calms them down, plan that in your day before the storm even begins.
Reward calm behavior – all the time!
It’s the same concept as giving your pet attention when they are jumping up on you and trying to get your attention – we don’t want to reward bad behavior. Now, it’s not necessarily bad behavior to be nervous about a storm, but it still encourages them that if they act nervous you will be ready to comfort them and give them love.
Most of the time there won’t be storms, so use these good weather days to reward your pup when they are being calm and relaxed with treats and attention.
Make the storm something positive – if your dog loves peanut butter or hot dogs, give them those as treats when they are being good during a storm! Better to have them associate storms with yummy treats rather than fear!
Give them a safe space
For most dogs, this can be their crate, a small bathroom, a quiet and peaceful room. The important thing to remember is to keep the door open wherever they are – give them the option to leave. Extreme caseshave led to dogs scratching through doors and drywall trying to escape.
TIP: You can make anywhere feel safer by being in the room and playing relaxing music!
Use a Thunder Shirt
There are many kinds of light compression dog shirts online. This can make your dog feel comforted and safe, but it isn’t for every dog.
As with any new toy or accessory, it’s highly recommended that you supervise your pet while they wear this (the author of this blog can tell you that her dog chewed through her thunder shirt while unsupervised – whoops! Not fun!)
Desensitize them during off-season
For dogs with a mild anxiety, it may be worth the trouble to work on making thunderstorms not so scary by desensitizing them. You can go on YouTube and quietly play sounds of thunderstorms or rain to help your pet get over their fears.
You can also work on turning the volume higher each month, but be careful not to give your pet anxiety in the process and only do what they can handle.
Talk to your veterinarian
If your dog has severe anxiety, we recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian. They can decide if your dog is a good candidate for anti-anxiety medicine and give you more tips on how you can better prepare them for the storms to come.
Keep these tips in mind next time you see some bad weather coming through, and as always please bring your pets inside- and don’t forget to share!