A Guide to Calming Your Dog During a Storm
You know how jarring a storm can be for your pup if you’re a dog owner. Your dog might already show symptoms of anxiety or depression. As the rain pours outside and thunder booms loudly, your furry family member is probably confused, scared, and anxious. They might shake, cry and tremble. The chaos outside is enough to make any dog into a true scaredy cat. This might also be extreme if they are in the office with you.
Although some dogs remain calm, cool and collected even during the worst of storms, it is common for dogs to experience heightened anxiety levels. In fact, up to 30% of dogs are terrified of storms. Some run and hide, while others will try to stay as close to you as possible. Seeing your dog like this can be disheartening and might even give you second-hand anxiety, especially if you have been working on their socialization.
There are ways to mitigate this natural reaction and help your pup feel safe and relaxed. Let’s talk about steps you can take to keep your dog calm.
Why Are Storms So Anxiety-Inducing For Dogs?
Dogs are incredibly intuitive and pick up on many things our human senses might not notice. If your dog is sensitive to storms and starts acting nervous before it even hits your area, this is why! Dogs can actually notice shifts in air pressure and even static electricity. Their strong noses can pick up the “smell” of a storm as it approaches. Their heightened senses might tip them off that something is soon to pass over, making them feel nervous in anticipation.
Once a storm starts, there are obvious factors that could send your dog into a state of anxiety. The loudness of thunder, the shaking of the floor, or the rain hitting the windows. Because of their strong sense of hearing, all of these things can induce extra panic than it does in humans. These loud noises and changes in air pressure might even hurt their ears. Another aspect of this fear comes from not knowing what is transpiring. We recognize that the loud boom outside was a natural occurrence of thunder, but it is impossible to identify as a simple weather phenomenon for your pup. This can lead them to interpret it as dangerous or threatening. Loud noises mixed with confusion will set off your dog’s natural inclination to find safe shelter.
How Can I Make Reduce My Dog’s Storm Anxiety?
Seeing your pup on edge during storms is something no dog owner wants to experience. Unfortunately, it can be inevitable. There are steps you can take to be prepared for when a storm passes over and ways you can make them feel comfortable during those dreaded times.
Stay Calm – Your dog is very in-tune to your emotions as well as their own. If they’re feeling afraid and sense you are as well, this can worsen their anxiety. Staying calm and maintaining a stable mood can show your dog that there is nothing to be afraid of, and they can relax. Give them a few indestructible toys.
Give Them a Safe Space – Putting your pup somewhere they feel secure and comfortable during a storm can do wonders to calm their anxiety. Think about where your dog will feel safest in your home – whether it be a small room or with you in your bedroom. If your dog is crate trained, their crate is an excellent place to put them. Crate training can be beneficial for many reasons, and during these times of heightened stress, a dog’s crate can be the most relaxing place. Dogs are naturally den animals. A dark, enclosed space can soothe any dog’s anxiety – making them feel protected and secure. Make sure, especially if they are home alone, that their safe space is accessible when no one is home.
With that said, you might not want to “trap” your dog during these times. Don’t close them off in a space alone as it might make them feel more panicked without company or an escape. Stay near to gauge how being put away impacts your dog’s anxiety levels. Also, make sure ramps and other resources can be accessed.
Don’t Reinforce Nervous Behavior – It might seem counterintuitive, but it is better not to comfort your dog during a storm. It is vital to support them and take steps to make them feel safe, but if you praise their nervous reaction, it might teach them that is what they should be doing. Instead, be playful and help them build confidence during these times. Don’t react negatively to this behavior but instead redirect their nervous energy by playing with them.
Exposure Before Storms Even Happen – If your dog is always panicking during storms, you may want to show them that these noises aren’t something to cower from. Playing thunderstorm soundtracks during other times can de-sensitize your pup from the real thing. Build up a tolerance by playing these noises during daily activities. If they act scared, ignore this behavior and play with them. Even further, praise them for calm reactions to these sounds. This will soon build a positive relationship and diminish their fear of storm sounds.
Give Them Distractions – During a storm, your dog might be wholly focused on what is happening outside, sitting and shaking; they might jolt at any noise. You can help them forget about the storm passing over by giving them bones, toys, or treats to redirect their energy. Giving them something else to focus on is one of your best bets if they feel anxious. Playing the TV or music as background noise can also be beneficial. Adding other white noise can drown out the rumblings outside!
Consult Your Vet for Possible Remedies – The good news is that anxiety in dogs is treatable! Suppose your dog suffers from anxiety and always seems absolutely terrified during storms. In that case, you might want to ask your vet what you can do. There are behavioral therapy options and medications that can combat stress. Your vet might recommend natural pet-safe remedies such as CBD for dogs or a prescription. Just like humans, anxiety is a medical condition that can be mitigated!
Just Like the Storm, Their Stress Will Pass!
Even though a raging storm might seem like the end of the world to your pup, rest assured that their anxiety will subside! Help them feel better by keeping them in a secure place and employing distractions if needed. Remember – don’t reinforce their nervous behavior! Help them increase their confidence during these trying times by showing them everything will be okay. Maybe your pup will start to see storms as play time instead of a time to take shelter. Making them feel comfortable can be as simple as giving them a bone or putting some calming music on.
If your dog is consistently showing signs of stress and they just can’t seem to relax even after the storm has passed, you might want to consider consulting your vet. Anxiety in dogs is common, and storms have a way of sparking particularly jarring bouts of fear. Your vet can give you the appropriate resources to reduce their anxiety and have them happy and calm in no time!
5 Tips To Calm Your Dog During A Storm | theparcvet.com
Dog Thunderstorm Anxiety: How To Help | akc.org