It is a heart-wrenching scene. Before the first boom of a thunderstorm, your dog begins to pace, whine, shake, cling to you, or even try to hide in their panic. Storm phobia is not uncommon in dogs and should not be ignored.
Most dogs will not get over their fear of storms on their own. A dog whose fearful behavior is ignored will likely get worse over time. There are many things you can do as your dog’s owner to help soothe their anxiety.
1. Reward Calm Behavior
No matter what time of year or type of weather, be sure to reward your dog when he is exhibiting calm behavior. If your dog is in an overexcited or nervous mood when no storm is near, it is best to ignore him until he calms down.
This shows your dog that nothing good comes from nervousness and that you do not advocate that behavior. When your dog is relaxed and calm, give him a treat, praise, or maybe initiate play time. They will in time, associate being calm with feelings of enjoyment.
2. Consider Calming Tablets
I once had a Labrador retriever mix that suffered terribly from storm phobia. She would shake uncontrollably, cry, wet herself, and vomit. The only thing I found that soothed her was doggie calming tablets. I recommend Cosequin Calm, a mini calming tablet shaped like a bone. It helps with reducing or eliminating a ton of different anxiety induced behaviors. Your best bet it to pair Cosequin Calm with several of the tip listed. Your pup will love you for it.
3. Provide a Comfy Safe Space
Many dogs try to hide when they are scared during a thunderstorm. Consider making him a warm cozy spot of his own to stay during their anxiety fit. You can put a doggy bed inside a closet or closed corner of the house.
Be sure to make this space quiet and comforting. You can try taking your dog there while they are calm and provide treats and praise while they lay there relaxing. This way, your dogs associates their safe space with feelings of pleasure and relaxation.
4. Dress Your Dog in a Tight Garment
Many dogs respond positively to wearing a tight item of clothing during a storm. This effect is akin to the comfort of swaddling a baby. You can use a child’s shirt that is snug but not too tight or you can purchase a storm garment specifically designed to comfort your dog.
One of these storm shirts is the Storm Defender. This brand is very highly reviewed and is one of the better known brands. While this method seems to work well for some dogs, it isn’t a remedy for all. I say that it is definitely worth a shot!
5. Do Not Scold Your Dog for Anxiety.
Yes, it can be rather irritating when your dog is losing their mind and making a lot of noise. Scolding or yelling at your dog when they are nervous is the last thing that will help.Dogs love to please their owners. If they feel that they are in trouble or have displeased you in some way, their anxious or even destructive behavior may worsen.
6. Do not Coddle Your Dog During a Storm
Do not “over-comfort” your dog during their anxiety attack. This can reinforce the idea that a storm really is something to be afraid of. It is better to just act like there is nothing wrong and give regular attention as usual. Pet them and love them but do not act as if there is a scary thing you are trying to protect them from.
7. Desensitize Your Dog
You can desensitize your dog to the noise of a storm with a CD that plays thunderstorm sounds. Play it for him when you leave for work or even when you are cooking dinner.
Make the sound of a storm into a normal part of their day. At least that way they won’t be running for the hills as soon as they hear the clap of thunder. Remember to give your dog praise and treats when they show calm behavior while listening to the CD.
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