Do you have a dog with storm phobia?
If you do a thunderstorm in the forecast is probably your worst nightmare.
Your dog pants, paces, whines, and might even become destructive during the storm.
You worry about the psychological damage and physical harm they can cause themselves during this highly-stressful event.
So, how do you handle dog fear and anxiety related to storms?
There are many different things you can do to help your dog be more comfortable and calm during a storm.
We've put together 8 simple tips below:
Be Home With Your Dog. For a dog who already fears thunderstorms, being alone will only worsen the anxiety. If bad weather is in the forecast, try to be home or have someone stay with your dog during the storm.
Create Calmness. Give your dog the comfort and attention she needs to calm her anxiety. Try a calming massage to help your dog relax during the storm.
Provide Distractions. If a dog is punished or ignored during a frightening event, it’s likely to worsen the anxiety. Instead, offer a positive stimulus, such as gentle petting, to distract and calm your dog. If your dog will still engage, try a game of indoor fetch, tug, or offer a high-value chew.
Offer a Safe Place. Place your dog’s crate and/or bed in the most sound-proof room of your home. A crate is a natural, psychological defense for dogs and can have an incredible influence on their comfort level. It’s also helpful to close the blinds to shelter your dog from the visual stimulation of a storm.
Compete With Noise. When a completely sound-proof room doesn’t exist, compete with the noise by utilizing a radio or white noise machine. Dog-calming music can also be helpful for the highly nervous dog to muffle the sound of the storm.
Calming Remedies. For mild to moderate cases of storm anxiety, natural therapies can be highly effective. A thunder jacket replicates swaddling and may sooth your dog into a calmer state.
Practice Desensitization. Try to desensitize your dog to the sound of storms by utilizing a thunderstorm sound CD. Start by playing the CD at a very low volume while offering your dog plenty of high-value treats and positive interaction. By slowly increasing the volume over several weeks, desensitization will lessen or completely eliminate anxiety during storms.
Visit Your Veterinarian. For the highly-anxious dog who doesn’t respond to the above methods, a visit to the veterinarian to discuss medication may be the solution. However, medication should be a last resort when desensitization efforts fail.