Do you have a dog that shows signs of anxiety before or during thunderstorms? Your dog may whine, yawn excessively, hide, pace, or pant during bad weather. If your dog suffers from storm-induced anxiety, here are four ways to help your dog calm down and weather the storm.
First of all, you are your dog’s master and leader. If you act frightened, your dog will follow suit and will also be frightened. You should act as if nothing is out of the ordinary and as if you don’t have a care in the world. If your dog is suffering from anxiety, the worse thing you could possibly do is call attention to it. Baby talking, excessive petting, and other “soothing” types of behavior are detrimental and actually increase the anxiety your pet is feeling. By trying to soothe your dog, you are communicating to your pet that something is wrong and you’re trying to make it better, which has the opposite effect of calming him down.
Instead of cuddling your pet, distract him. Start a game of indoor fetch, or take out the training treats and try to teach him a new trick. Turn on your dishwasher, dryer, or television to muffle the sounds of the storm outside. By associating bad weather with positive interaction, you are teaching your pet that there is nothing to be afraid of. If it thunders and your pet gets scared, turn his attention elsewhere by commanding him to “sit” or “speak” and then give him a treat. By showing your dog that life goes on during a storm, you are showing him that storms are nothing to get stressed out about.
If your dog is in hiding and refuses to come out, try buying a compression shirt for him. This type of shirt applies a constant, light compression to your dog’s body and has been proven to calm stressed out pups immensely. It works in the same way swaddling helps calm a screaming infant. Most dogs experience the calming effects in about 20 minutes. If you don’t already have a compression shirt, you can lightly wrap your pup’s torse in an ace bandage to help him calm down.
Talk To Your Vet
If none of these tips work for your pup, you may need to get doggy sedatives for your scared pet. Most dogs will react positively to these tips, but some dogs need extra help. If your dog is a rescue, you may not know his previous experiences with thunderstorms and for all you know, he may have been left out in storms to fend for himself and so his fears are much worse than most. Whatever works for your pet is what you need to do.