Thunderstorms turn the bravest of dogs into frightened pups: whimpering, shaking and clinging to their owners.
Loud noises can disrupt anyone’s behavior, especially your canine friend who possesses the capability to hear the rumbles even before a clap of thunder. It’s no wonder dogs have a fear of thunderstorms.
Thankfully, the terror inflicted on your dog by a thunderstorm can be soothed and prevented with these simple techniques.
1. Remain Calm and Positive
Dogs will notice how you are reacting and base their emotions on your own. If you are appearing to be anxious during a thunderstorm, your dog will pick up on these cues and become anxious as well. Instead, engage your pet by offering distractions like treats or games. This will take their mind off of the noises and help your dog understand there isn’t a threat.
2. Reward Calm Behavior in All Types of Weather
Practice a routine that involves being rewarded for being calm. This may involve setting aside a designated time and area where your dog is rewarded for their calm behavior. When the thunderstorm begins, bring your dog to their designated area and continue to reward them with treats and toys.
3. Make their Crate a Safe Place
The den like experience of a wire dog crate can be calming for dogs during thunderstorms. Introducing them to a crate early in life as a positive place to go for sleeping and relaxing will greatly influence how they handle feeling threatened and allow them to feel as if their crate is a safe haven during times of chaos.
4. Try Desensitization
When it’s not storming out, play a recording of thunder noises at a low level that doesn’t bother your dog. Reward them for their calm behavior with treats and petting. Over the course of several months, gradually increase the noise level of your thunder recordings while still rewarding their calm behavior. This trained behavior helps to dampen their fear of thunderstorms and the noises that go along with them.
5. Ask Your Vet for Help
If your dog is experiencing anxiety that is simply too much for you to deal with, ask your vet for help. Often they will prescribe medicine that will help your dog calm down when a storm hits.
These are just a few of the many ways in which we can work to keep dogs calm during a thunderstorm. Do you have something that has worked in the past? Let us know!