Is your dog scared of thunderstorm? Acting like it is the end of the world whenever a storm hits? Your pet is not alone. It is one of the most common fears that affect dogs. Fear of storm and thunder is very hard to eliminate completely, but there are ways to minimize it. Stop your dog from being frightened during a storm with these 5 steps.
Why some dogs are afraid of storm is difficult to say. However, owners of dogs that are afraid of thunderstorm are rarely mistaken about the cause of their dog’s behavior. In many cases, dogs show signs of panic even before thestorm has arrived, because of their keen sense of hearing and ability to sense pressure changes.
The signs are often:
- Excessive salivation
- Elevated heart rate and rapid breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Cowering, crouching, low body posture
- Shaking, quivering, trembling
- Tucked tail
- Barking, whining, abnormal vocalization (often relentless)
Most fears and anxieties develop in the beginning of social maturity, from 12 to 36 months of age. In some cases even earlier.
If the fear is not treated promptly, it can escalate into a phobia.
5 ways to stop your dog from being frightened during a storm
#1 Bring your dog indoors
As soon as you see or feel that a storm is coming, bring your dog indoors. Dogs left out doors may panic and try to escape the yard. When dogs panick they may hurt themselves trying to run indoors, jump over (or through) fencing, or out of the garden.
#2 Provide a safe hiding place
A safe place could be:
- In his or her own crate
- Under your bed or a table
- Under the covers in your bed or on the couch
Make sure that your dog can get into its safe area without your assistance. This will give your pup comfort whether or not you are home.
#3 Be home with your dog
Dogs tend to be much more fearful if left alone during a thunderstorm. So, if you have predicted that a storm will occur, be home with your dog at that time if possible, or have someone care for your dog. When you are home you can also try to do something fun with your dog. The best way to change your dog’s fearful behavior is to sidetrack it with an activity it enjoys.
- Tugging on a toy
- Playing catch
- Learning new tricks
#4 Minimize the noise
In general, it’s a good idea to expose a young dog to a variety of noises from an early age. If your dog is very young and is experiencing thunderstorms for the first time, you will have a much easier time keeping it calm if it is used to a wide variety of noises already. But, if your dog is already lying under your bed, shaking, avoid noise that has unwanted sounds such as drums, gunfire, fireworks and other noises likely to further frighten your dog.
#5 Close the windows, blinds or curtains
Block out as much of the noise and light as possible. If you can minimize the amount of the storm that your dog experiences, it may reduce the discomfort. Close curtains and move your dog to a room in your home where you can hear the thunder the least. If your pup is afraid of lightening, it’s a good idea to turn on a light in the room your dog is in. This will minimize the impact of the lightening.
Extreme fear and phobia
If your dog is seriously affected and the anxiety level is so high that it destroys the house trying to find refuge from the storm, your vet will be able to prescribe medication that may help. But never give your dog any medication without consulting your veterinarian.