6 Ways to Help Your Dog During Thunderstorms

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“It was a dark and stormy night.”  If that sentence worries you because of the way your dog handles storms, there is help for you both.

There are lots of dogs whose behavior changes during storms. These changes can range from being a little clingy toward you to flat out fear. Signs that your dog is bothered by the stormy weather include pacing, panting, whining, barking, hiding, or in extreme cases, trying to run through windows or doors.

Some dogs are bothered by the static electricity in the air before and during storms. These are the dogs that may run and hide in your bathtub. They are really trying to “ground” themselves. A lot of these dogs can be helped by simply rubbing a dryer sheet over their fur to lessen the static electricity they feel. If you find yourself with a dog that is reacting to the thunder, lightning, or high winds, there are several things you can try.

  1. If your dog is crate trained, try setting up the crate with cushions, toys, treats and putting a blanket or sheet over the top to make a cozy den.
  2. Try turning up the volume a bit on the stereo or TV to mask some
    of the sound.
  3. Act like nothing is different. Many times our dogs take their cues from us. I have a dog that begins to get antsy when a storm is coming and if I choose that time to vacuum or do laundry, or bake, he seems to take the cue that nothing is wrong and will settle down. In the long run, this will help your dog figure out that storms are nothing to be afraid of and he will settle on his own.
  4. Try not to coddle. It is the equivalent of rewarding the fear. If his actions get more attention, he is more likely to continue. You can speak softly, and confidently to him, but don’t overdo the affection.
  5. I find that using a Thundershirt is very effective. The shirt wraps the dog snugly, like a hug. It really makes a difference in a lot of anxiety scenarios. The only drawback to using only the Thundershirt is that you must be there to put it on. If the weather gets bad while you are out of the house – your dog has not learned to self sooth.
  6. If all else fails, speak to your vet about getting medication (check herbals too) to take the edge off of the fear.

Sometimes a dark and stormy night – or day – calls for the ultimate in actions. Try climbing into your nice comfy bed, invite your fur-buddy, pull the covers up over your heads, and take a nice long nap.

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at FourontheFloor-Dogtraining.com and on Facebook.

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