If your pet trembles at the sound of an approaching thunderstorm, he’s not alone. Fear of thunder and lightning is common in dogs, and although you may be calm about the oncoming storm, your dog may experience severe anxiety. Here are some things you can do to help calm your dog’s fear of thunderstorms.
Your dog probably won’t leave your side during a thunderstorm, so try to distract him with play or regular noises, like the television or radio. Talk to your pet in a normal voice without sounding too soothing or pacifying. This can actually sound like praise to your pet, and you certainly don’t want to praise fear.
Make a safe space
Keep your windows and doors closed and keep your dog inside during the storm. Offer a quiet space for him to rest, but expect that he’ll probably want to stay close to you. After all, you are the pack leader and he looks to you to keep him safe from the storm. Be aware that it’s not just the noise and light that affects your dog--they can actually feel the changes in barometric pressure. This can make him feel uncomfortable, so try to be patient if he doesn’t listen as well as he usually does.
Avoid closing your pet up in a cage or crate during the storm. This could worsen his anxiety and make him panic. Just leave the door ajar and let him come and go as he pleases.
Medicines and therapeutic options
Your vet may be able to advise you about any sort of medication you can give to calm your dog during storms. There are some products on the market that are designed to soothe dogs during storms. A ‘thundershirt’ is one of these, but there’s no guarantee that it will help. If your dog hates wearing clothing, this could make the situation worse, so use with caution.
With training and conditioning, your dog can overcome his fears.
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