Summer storms can be noisy and scary, especially for dogs. Dogs have a very acute sense of hearing which makes them particularly sensitive to thunderstorms. Some dogs will develop a fear for storms as they get older, in others it is just something they are born with and then some animals are fearful of storms due to a previous bad experience.
If you are home during a storm, and if possible, bring your dog inside or into a garage. Try to comfort them but do not coddle them as it can often make the situation worse the next time. If your dog is an outside dog it is important to ensure that your fencing is secure and safe, so if your dog does get scared or frantic they can not escape. Provide them with an area, shelter or kennel, where they can retreat to and protect themselves from the wind, rain and hail. You can also try distracting them from the storm by playing with them. Most importantly do not punish them for being scared of the storm, but instead keep them company and talk to them. By making the storm a positive experience they are less likely to be as anxious during the next storm or when they sense a storm is coming.
A product that has proven to work well to reduce anxiety during storms is the Thundershirt. This is a specially designed vest or shirt that is worn by the dog and it applies constant, gentle pressure to help calm the dog when they are anxious or fearful. There are also a number of supplements available for anxiety and nervousness, some natural that can help calm your dog during storms. If your pet becomes very distressed during storms and these other tips aren’t helping you should speak to your veterinarian as there are some medications available to help calm them down as well as various behavioural training techniques that can help.
Originally published in My Pet Magazine Summer 2014-2015
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