Sudden weather changes from high temperatures to precipitation followed by strong thunder and wind do not suit anyone, not even our pets. As many dog owners know the sight of your pet shivering, hiding in the corners of the bathroom or running around the apartment in disbelief for fear of thunder is not the least beautiful sight. However, there are ways to help and alleviate your pet’s fear and prevent the most serious consequences – epileptic seizures and heart attacks.
Given that the effects we see from fireworks, and at a time when thunder and lightning are similar, it is not surprising that our dog experiences these 2 threats as well – with great fear and stress. The reaction also depends on the character of the animal and the circumstances in which it is exactly (whether it is outside or inside, whether it is already under stress due to something and the like).
What is the real explanation for so much stress? And when it comes to thunder, but also when it comes to fireworks, the cause of stress is the same: meeting the unknown. Namely, when it comes to thunder, the dog sees light effects and hears sounds that are unknown to him, and for which he cannot find the cause. Then he has a struggle for survival, and even panic, and he is able to do some damage, run away, or hurt himself or others.
Here are a few ways to help you do just that.
1. Be near your dog
Whenever possible, plan to be home with the dog when it starts to thunder. Only your presence will calm them down and let them know that they do not have to fight with the fear alone. You will also find out exactly which aspects of the storm create anxiety and fear in your dog.
2. Be calm
You have to be calm. If dogs can feel a drop in air pressure and smell certain diseases, then they can also feel when you are upset. Be completely relaxed during the storm and your dog will adopt your behavior.
3. Do not punish him
Never punish a dog for barking at thunder or panicking during a storm. It will only increase their anxiety during such events.
4. Do not pamper him
On the other hand, too many treats, cuddles and constant attention will make your dog think that you are rewarding him with anxious behavior. This is not the form of behavior you want.
5. Find a safe place
Instincts may tell you to cuddle in bed with your dog, but follow him and his needs. Where does he go when he is afraid? Many dogs hide in the bathroom during storms. If your dog does the same, give him access to his safe place when the thunder starts.
6. Play with sounds
Sound toys or louder music may reduce the impact of thunder to a certain level. A large fan can also serve. Some dogs like to hear music on television. In fact, any kind of noise that can distract the dog from the terrible sounds outside will serve.
Take his favorite toy and play with it. Linking an event he fears to positive activity is a great way to not only distract him from the thunder but also to be positive during the next storm.
8. Practice routines during storms on ordinary days
Much like planning an escape in case of fire, it is wise to have a plan of action during storms. During calm and sunny days, work with your dog on thunder protocol. This protocol may include a leash to take the dog to his safe place. Reward calm behavior and good thunder protocol exercise with treats. This way, they will recognize the routine when a storm occurs and feel more comfortable.
9. Invest in tranquilizers
From interactive toys to a variety of sprays, stores are really full of products that have a specific purpose of calming an anxious dog. Try a few solutions and determine which is the best.
10. Try it with medication
If absolutely nothing works, as a last resort, consider tranquilizers, but consult a veterinarian beforehand. There are many options available that can ease the dog’s fear and allow him and himself to rest and relax during the storm.
11. Quiet room
When you notice that a storm with possible thunder is approaching, determine one room in your home that will be a safe zone for your pet in such situations. You can make him a special makeshift bed of soft blankets and his favorite toys, or move his real bed to that room until the storm passes. Also, it is a good idea to leave some of your worn clothes in that room to make your pet feel calmer because your scent is in the room.
12. Pay attention to him
Whether playing with a rope or a ball is a good idea during a storm, it depends on the dog, but you can try. If it is possible to calm down your pet and distract him from thunder and storms, it is worth trying, and good cuddling is also a great distraction in most cases.
13. Dark up the room
Most dogs are afraid of sudden sounds during storms, wind and rain, so it is recommended that you lower the blinds or draw the curtains and thus create a calmer and quieter atmosphere for your pet.
14. Wrap it
Like a gentle hug, there is a piece of dog clothing that provides soothing gentle pressure around your pet’s abdomen that can help relieve anxiety and make him feel safer. This way of calming pets is quite popular in the USA, while in our area there are fewer dog owners who know about this method. You can try and see how your pet reacts to this method.
Advice from a vet – If none of the above helps, if your pet still looks anxious during a storm, consult a vet for help. There are medications to relieve anxiety that can help, but never give them to your pet on your own and without first consulting a vet.
In addition, it is very important not to punish the dog if he is afraid of thunder, because it takes time for the dog to get used to them, especially because storms are not an everyday occurrence in your dog’s life. In addition, you must stay calm, because your nervousness and fear will increase the fear of your pet, and when the dog feels that the owner is not afraid, he himself becomes calmer and more relaxed.