Pet dogs are a lot like kids, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if yours is afraid of thunder, among other things. It usually starts at the age of two, and reactions can vary, from howling in distress, to scratching on furniture, to going under the table. It’s nothing to worry about though, as there are ways to address dog storm anxiety.
What makes thunder so scary for dogs?
There hasn’t been enough study to pinpoint what it is exactly that the dogs find terrifying. It could be the sound, the accompanying lightning, or both. That’s probably not too far off the mark though, seeing as it can have a similar effect on us humans.
Your pet may be a natural worrier, but being in such a constant state of alertness can take a toll on your dog’s health. If that is the case, then a visit to the vet may be in order. If not, then stick around and continue reading.
Dogs are known for their ability to sense certain things better than we can. Perhaps your pet simply has a high sensitivity to the smells that storms produce, and the sounds whose frequencies are too low for us to hear. In any case, below are some of the most effective ways to keep your dog from panicking during a heavy downpour.
Choose an accessible spot for your dog to hide in
A pet crate would do, preferably with cushions so that the dog would feel safe and comfortable. You can also drape a blanket onto the crate to give it a sturdy or a hard-to-breach look, but always keep the door wide open so that the dog can leave whenever it chooses. If a crate is out of the question, you can improvise by building makeshift walls around one spot and filling it with your dog’s stuffed toys.
Play with your dog
Nothing reduces anxiety for a dog better than playtime, especially on stormy days. Doing this would also be beneficial to you, as you won’t have to dwell on how you had to put off plans to run errands or to meet up with friends because of the nasty weather. If your dog isn’t relaxed enough to play, try putting on music or using treats to drown out the sounds of the storm.
Make plans for the upcoming seasons
In this age of information, there’s just no excuse for not knowing when to watch out for a big storm. Go to Youtube and look for thunder sounds or sounds that you would usually hear during a storm, then hit on the Play button when your dog is close enough to hear. The sooner it becomes used to the sounds, the easier it will be for you both to go through days of bad weather.
Start with the volume on low and engage the dog during playback. After a few days, if there are no signs of distress, try playing the sounds more loudly. You can offer treats during the exercise so that the dog would associate the sounds with good things.
Finally, remember that the best way to get your dog to do what you ask is through positive reinforcement. Your dog’s reaction to thunder is involuntary, which means it’s not trying to deliberately disobey you. Raising your voice would only stress the dog further, and of course, yourself.