18Jun 2019

Doggy Distress: How To Calm Your Dogs Nerves & Anxiety During Thunderstorms

Doggy Distress: How To Calm Your Dogs Nerves & Anxiety During Thunderstorms

Are those Northeast Ohio Thunderstorms causing your dog to have anxiety? Maybe your dog’s tail goes between his/her legs, which is more often than not quickly followed by a whimper, an urgent need to go into hiding and or persistent scratching? If so, then this article might be able to help your dog overcome the next storm!

If you’re wondering why your dog get’s all crazy during storms, the answer is relatively simple.  Dogs can generally sense the change in air pressure, temperature and they can visibly see the lightning. This is something that they are not accustomed to either and throws off their sense of security, the comfort of their environment has rapidly changed before their eyes and they aren’t entirely sure what to expect.  From the loud crashes and booms, the swirling winds and the low rumblings off in the distance your pooch (if he’s typical to getting scared during storms) is sure to be exhibiting many of the anxiety related traits we mentioned above.

Solving or at least putting at ease some of those “storm” related fears can be done by trying one of the 5 steps listed below.

  1. A SAFE SPACE: Provide a safe indoor area, like a crate.  If your dog is not used to a crate, provide a comfortable, small space like a corner or small bathroom. Be sure to fill it with familiar items such as your dog’s bed, favorite toys and water bowl.  If there are windows in the room, close the blinds or curtains or cover the windows so the dog can’t see outside.
  2. DISTRACTIONS: If your dog is afraid of thunder, play calming music to drown out the thunder claps. If your dog feels like playing, do so. You can also keep your dog distracted with treats and favorite toys.
  3. PREPARATION: Download thunderstorm sounds and practice by playing them quietly (when there isn’t an actual storm taking place) to your dog, and give the dog treats or play a fun game with him while the sound is on. Gradually, over weeks, increase the volume. Stop the play or treats when the sounds are turned off. The goal is to help your dog relate the sound of thunderstorms with happy times.
  4. STAY POSITIVE:  Most importantly, practice positive reinforcement with your dog. Do not scold or punish him for displays of dog storm anxiety, but remember that his behavior is not about disobedience, but about high levels of fear. Do anything you can to help your dog feel better—teaching him new, pleasant associations is the best way to help anxious behavior.
  5. ASK THE VET: Your veterinarian is the best person to talk to when it comes to dogs and thunder.  In some extreme cases the vet may prescribe a low-dose anti-anxiety medication for your pooch.

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