Thursday, September 15, 2011

Keeping Your Dog Calm in a Thunderstorm

This time of year can be pretty hectic if you live with a dog who's afraid of thunderstorms.  Many dogs experience a lot of anxiety, some will seem uneasy,  begin pacing or find a place hide before we even know there's a storm coming.  Most of us when trying to comfort our dogs are unknowingly only adding to their anxiety.  Below are a few things you can do that will help keep your dog calm during a thunderstorm:
  • Play with your dog. Playing with your dog will keep them distracted while the storm takes place. Get out their favorite toy and play a game with them. Eventually, they’ll associate thunder and lightning with good things instead of bad things.
  • Turn on some soothing music. Soothing music can calm dogs. Keep turning the volume up as needed. Sound machines work great for calming dogs during thunderstorms.
  • Provide a safe spot for your dog. Make sure your dog has a safe unenclosed area to retreat to during a thunderstorm. If you notice that your dog favors a particular spot during stormy weather, make that spot as comfortable as possible for them.  For some dogs it may be a small room like the bathroom, a corner of a room, behind a chair, or they may even choose their crate.  You can make that area comfortable for them by placing a blanket or toy and  don't try to force them out, wait for them to come out when they are ready.
  • Provide blankets or towels for your dog. Many dogs hide under the covers during thunderstorms. If your dog does this, make sure they have their own blanket or towel to hide under. You can put it on their bed or in their safe spot.  It will help them feel a sense of security.
  • Give your dog a stress-relieving product. There are products out on the market today that are specifically used for calming dogs during thunderstorms. Examples of these products include: The Thundershirt, natural remedies you can find at your local pet store or anxiety medications from the vet. The Thundershirt fits your dog like a piece of tight clothing, using pressure to relieve stress during thunderstorms. If your dog is frightened of thunderstorms and doesn’t mind wearing clothing, this might be an option for you to try.  There are many different natural anxiety remedies available.  The one I most commonly recommend is by the brand HomeoPet called Anxiety TFLN (Thunderstorms, Fireworks, Loud Noises).  Lastly there is the option of medication from your veterinarian.  Although these options are safe I only recommend this as a last resort and most often only if you area worried about your dogs safety.
Please remember to avoid cuddling your dog during a thunderstorm. When you do this, your not comforting them, you’re actually encouraging them to be frightened.  Also, never let your dog see your anxiety. Dogs read you like an open book and if your are appearing anxious and worked up it will only encourage this behaviour in your dog.

Most importantly, always make sure your dog has shelter during stormy weather. If you have an outside dog, the best place for your dog to retreat to during stormy weather is your garage or basement. If this isn’t an option, make sure your dog has a dog house or pen to retreat to while he’s outside.

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