How to Help Your Pup with Thunderstorm Anxiety
We all know the saying “April showers bring May flowers”, but these April showers may not bring joy to your pets. Because dogs have more sensitive hearing than humans, the thunder is much louder to them than it is to us. Just like fireworks, thunderstorms can cause your pup to be nervous, stressed, and anxious.
Some common signs of storm anxiety that your dog may show are;
- Clinging to you more than usual
- Hiding in a small or safe place
While not all dogs have storm anxiety, they can develop it later in life. Younger puppies, for example, they might not be scared of thunderstorms when they are young, but its typically after they turn a year old that this can develop. Any dog can have storm anxiety, but there seems to be a genetic pattern in certain breeds, like herding breeds. Other breeds that tend to be more anxious when it comes to thunderstorms can include larger breeds, long-haired dogs, or breeds with a second coat.
Of course, no one wants to watch their pups be scared and be unsure of how to help. Here are some simple tips to help calm your dogs during thunderstorms.
- Make sure your dog has a safe place to go during a storm. Either in a kennel, under the bed, a closet, or under the covers in bed. When dogs are afraid, they go to the safest place that they can find, so providing your dog with a safe place will help with their stress.
- Do your best to be calm during a storm. Dogs can pick up on your feelings, so during a storm, try to stay calm. Be there for your pup but try not to make a huge deal about it. You can try distracting them with their favorite toy or a treat, that way there will be a sense of “normalcy”.
- Try a Thunder Shirt! Thunder shirts are snug shirts that you can put on your pup that will apply gentle and consistent pressure, similar to swaddling a baby. Thunder shirts can help soothe your pet and make them feel a little calmer during a storm, perfect for if you are not able to be home with them.
- Attempt to drown out the sounds. Background music like tv, classical music, a loud fan, etc. can help make the thunder “less noticeable”, meaning your dog will be less afraid than before.
- Pull down the blinds. Closing curtains and blinds can help not only muffle the sounds a little, but some pups can be scared of the flashes of lightning as well.
- Keep your pup company. If you are home with your dog during the storm, let them lay with you if needed. Some dogs feel better with just their humans’ company, so relax and watch a movie with your furry friend until the storm passes.
- Reward your dog when storm passes. When the storm is over and all the loud and scary noises stop, try giving your pup their favorite treat. That’ll let them know that everything is ok now and that you are proud of them.
- Try desensitizing your pup. If you notice that your pup is afraid of storms, try playing very low volume recordings of thunder on a sunny day. Doing this for even 5 minutes every couple days, with slowly increasing volume, can eventually help desensitize them when storms hit.
- Ask your vet for help. If your dog’s storm anxiety is really bad, and no methods help to soothe even a little, talk to your vet about potential solutions, such as an anti-anxiety medication.
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