Does your dog have a terrible time during a thunderstorm? Is he absolutely petrified, leaving you at a dead end regarding how to manage the situation? It can be a bit distressing for you as a owner to see your pet in such anxiety.
It is necessary to communicate to the animal that the situation is not as threatening as it seems to be. Also, if it is not calmed down, it may end up causing some damage to objects in the house in its state of panic. Consequently, we shall discuss some of the options you have to handle your dog and reassure him that this situation, too, shall pass.
Why Are Dogs Scared Of A Storm?
The primary reason behind a dog panicking at the time of a storm is that it does not understand the source of the noise. But, in addition to this, there can be various other triggers to a dog getting scared.
Reaction to noise can be a result of noise phobia. Noise phobia comes from the dog’s survival instinct, and it may consequently believe that a fight or flight situation is happening where it needs to protect itself.
Change in the behavior of the people around it also makes it sensitive. The dog can see people rushing to shut windows and switch off the AC or the television. This commotion will cause it to panic.
It is claimed that dogs can sense a change in barometric pressure. Dogs feel static electricity running through their fur, which adds to their uneasiness.
Finally, dogs may have reactions to certain sounds which are connected to fear by heredity. Depending on the dog breed, they might have different anxiety levels in response to a storm. This is directly related to how the dog breed has historically evolved.
How To Prepare for Strom In Advance?
If you have heard on the weather forecast that there will be a thunderstorm, you should take action beforehand. Since storms more-or-less occur in the evening or the afternoon, you can put your dog away from the garden then. The dog is likely to be more fearful or phobic in case they are left alone during the storm. If someone is there to care for it, it might stay more relaxed.
It is also possible to train the dog to tolerate frightening sounds in advance.
The technique that has to be deployed here is known as conditioning. A recording of sounds similar to the thundering can be played, at a comfortable pitch, to the dog. While the volume needs to be kept at a minimum, it can be gradually increased so that the dog is eventually accustomed to it. The idea is to desensitize the dog to the fright caused by the thundering sounds. Of course, this method might not be enough in itself; it is not just the sound but other factors during the storm that causes the panic.
7 Tips on How to Calm Your Dog During Storms
Following are some tips for managing your dog during a storm:
1. Calmly Reassure The Dog
You may talk to your dog in a reassuring tone. Let the dog lie close to you; you may coddle it a bit to let it know that the situation is fine. The dog tends to take a cue from you, and it may calm down.
Also Read: How to Calm an Aggressive Dog (Effective Aggression Training Tips)
2. Build A Small Safe Space For Them
In times of stress, the dog will inevitably go to a space that it feels is protected, such as beneath a bed, a closet, or a dark bathroom. You can allow it to hide in what it perceives to be a safer spot. Otherwise, you can keep your dog in the kennel or the crate. Consider laying a heavy blanket across its side.
3. Place It In A Soundproof Spot
Pick a room that will successfully insulate the sound during the thunder. The room should preferably have brick walls and not timber. If the dog is placed here, it might not be as disturbed by the thundering sounds. If you cannot avoid a room with windows, try covering the windows with heavy curtains or creating other types of insulation using hardware.
4. Provide Distractions
Another strategy is to cover the sound of the thunder with other noises. You could try playing something on the stereo or television, preferably soothing music. Alternatively, if your air conditioner or pedestal fan makes a lot of noise while operating, you can also try keeping it on during the storm.
5. Cover It With A Thunder Coat
Several dog owners have reported that a thunder coat helps to calm the anxiety disorder of the dog. The firm pressure around the upper body area that the dog feels can be quite relaxing for its nerves. For this to work, the owner must have made the dog comfortable wearing such body wraps.
6. Natural Therapy
Massaging the body of the pet might be a helpful strategy. For instance, essential oil lavender might be applied lightly or rubbed on the bottom using a bandanna. This helps to reduce the anxiety level of the animal. Other essence liquids may also be used if they have been so prescribed by the vet.
7. Visit the Veterinarian
If the problem worsens, you must visit the veterinarian to get appropriate medication. Anti-anxiety medications might be required in addition to other tests that might be needed. Strictly professional help should be taken in this regard.
Also Read: 8 Natural Anxiety Remedies for Dogs
It is natural to be concerned about your dog when it starts panicking during a storm. Every dog owner will naturally feel protective about their pet. In this article, we have discussed the various ways in which you can manage the situation so that the dog does not get too anxious.
Caring for the dog in such a situation can become a bit too tedious. It should be remembered that the dog does not choose to be afraid of thunderstorms and get worked up. Instead, it is incapable of understanding reality, and hence it needs to be handled with patience.
It is scientifically claimed that compression goes a long way in soothing the anxieties of the dog. A constant yet reassuring pressure is applied on the torso of the dog. It is understood that this causes a release of relaxing hormones such as oxytocin or endorphins.
On the first few occasions, it is recommended that the thunder shirt be changed every couple of hours. This is in order to gauge the pet’s response to the cover, and whether it is getting irritated or not.
Of course, eventually, you can keep the shirt on for hours. It only needs to be removed for brief intervals of 30 minutes in order to allow its skin to breathe.
Sileo or medetomidine makes the dog indifferent to all the noises, while not making them too sleepy. Benzodiazepine drugs are effective, however they should have been tried previously so that there no issues with dosage level. A regimen of Prozac along with Xanax given right before the storm is also effective.
If done in a systematic manner, the dog may show results. However, not all elements of a thunderstorm, such as change in barometric pressure can be reproduced during the training. Consequently, there might not be a complete desensitization in response to the training.
Hi, I’m Walter,
I live in Oklahoma City, USA, and have extensive dog caring and grooming expertise. In addition, I provide dog training tips and tricks through my blogs in Canine Weekly. I have a Dog Behavior and Training diploma and have previously worked as a Dog Trainer at ROC Animal Training and Behavior and Tip Top K9 of OKC Dog Training.
Apart from writing on Canine Weekly, I share my views on Twitter and Linkedin.