April showers bring May flowers, right? Unfortunately, April showers also bring canine panic attacks for some pet owners. With storm season now upon us, use these tips to make sure you and your dog are prepared to help ease fear and anxiety.
Why are some dogs scared of storms?
Having a fear of at least one type of noise is pretty normal for dogs. Whether it be thunder, fireworks, or just the vacuum, most pet owners have seen this occur. With thunder especially, it’s hard for dogs to understand where the noise is coming from, and because of that, hard to know where to hide from it. Researchers say up to 30% of all dogs are scared of the rumbling noise of thunder.
How do dogs show that they are scared?
If your dog is fearful during a storm, it will probably exhibit one or more of the following signs:
- Pacing restlessly
- Engaging in destructive behavior
- Hiding in a confined space
- Barking or howling
What should I do if my dog is scared of storms?
First, keep in mind that dogs can feed off their human’s emotions. Let’s say your dog is startled by a crack of thunder. If you immediately grab them to snuggle and comfort, they’ve just learned that they get attention when they show a fearful reaction to thunder in addition to you reinforcing that their fear is valid. A similar situation happens when toddlers fall while learning to walk. When parents make a fuss, the child cries more. When the parent uses a firm voice to say, “You’re okay!” the child typically just gets up and tries again.
Instead, stay cool, calm, and collected when storms happen. Offer ways to distract your pup, such as mental enrichment, fetch, or just simply petting him.
Find a Safety Spot
If your dog is displaying the signs above consistently with thunder, find a spot in your home where they can feel safe. This could be their crate, a closet, or another confined and comforting space.
When your dog finds their place of comfort, play some soft music or white noise to supplement the sounds of thunder.
Purchase a Soothing Product
There are several products that can be helpful in this situation as well.
Thundershirt – This shirt for your dog applies gentle, constant pressure to calm anxiety and fear caused by thunderstorms and other triggers.
Calming chews – There are many types of treats and chews on the market available to soothe your pet. Check with your Cheap Pricks vet at your next visit. Cheap Pricks vet at your next visit on which they recommend for your pet!
Stuffed animals – Another great product on the market now are anxiety-reducing stuffed animals! Many offer a heating pad feature and a heartbeat-like pulse to remind puppies of their littermates.
Desensitize Your Dog to the Noise
Work on training your dog to ignore noises that they deem as scary. When it’s not storming, you can find storm sounds on YouTube. Start with them at a very low volume. When your dog listens to the noise without reacting, reward with a treat. Continue to slowly raise the volume and reward calm behavior. Practice this on days when it’s not storming so that when it does storm, your pup will be prepped and ready to go!
Consider an Anxiety Medication
In severe cases, consider medication and discuss it with your Cheap Pricks veterinarian. With an exam and consultation, they can advise you on the best option for your pet!