Is your dog afraid of thunderstorms? While we are all grateful for the rain and the recent storms (especially to knock out some of the pollen), some of our 4-Legged Kids are less than thrilled with the thunderstorms. Do you have a dog that gets anxious (or even terrified) when thunderstorms roll in? Many of these dogs sense a storm coming from a long way away and will become more alert and their anxiety behaviors will start to ramp up.
Here are some strategies to help your 4-Legged Kid handle storms.
- Find a “safe place” where your dog can stay during the storm…this is sometimes a bathroom, a closet, or a crate covered by a blanket. Playing white sounds or music can also help calm your dog (or at least drown out some of the sounds of the storm).
- Never leave your dog outside during a thunderstorm.
- Examine your own behavior and the behavior of other people in the house. Dogs react to human anxiety, fear and stress. Try to remain relaxed.
- Don’t just ignore your dog’s fear and anxiety. It is real and is an extreme source of discomfort to them.
- Try distracting your pet by practicing basic commands or playing games together. Reward your pet for calm behavior with praise and treats.
- Several clients have had success with a “thundershirt.” These can be purchased at many local pet stores or online. Make sure to read the instructions on how to introduce your pet to a thundershirt and use it properly.
If your pet has extreme anxiety, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian or a dog behaviorist. Many pets with extreme anxiety need a combination of medication and behavior therapy.
If your dog exhibits anxieties such as separation anxiety, you can get some practical tips in our Separation Anxiety Guide.
Fear Free Happy Homes has a video series on anxieties you can learn from Preventing and Alleviating Anxieties 101
Janie founded 4-Legged Kids, Inc in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1997 and provides education through her PetBizHIVE podcast and her PetBizMBA membership and courses. She is a Certified Professional Animal Care Operator, Fear Free certified and a Certified Professional Pet Sitter. Learn more about the Founder, Janie Budnick.