Thunderstorms are often terrifying for dog as they tend to pace, pant, whine, and become destructive. This is mainly because they do not understand where the noise is coming from. In some extreme cases, dogs can chew the carpet, claw through drywall, and make frantic efforts to escape.
It can be terrible watching your dog fret during thunderstorms. You tend to worry about the physical and psychological damage they can cause themselves during these moments.
So, you might be bothered and ask, “How can I help my dog cope with storms?” Well, this article is meant to help you out.
Here are some simple tips on how to help your dog cope with storms:
Use a thunder jacket
Thunder jackets, also known as anxiety wraps are vest-like garments that work well to calm anxious dogs. These garments apply gentle pressure much like a calming hug around your dog’s torso.
These jackets are inspired by research on the effects of certain kinds of pressure and touch on humans suffering from anxiety and autism. And so fat, they have been highly effective, not only for humans but also for pets.
Anxiety wraps have been shown to be effective for whining, continual barking, destructive chewing, hyperactivity, and other disruptive behaviors dogs display when terrified by a thunderstorm.
Dogs feel safe when you’re relaxed, so they tend to watch out for your reaction during a thunderstorm or its lightning. This is more reason you should stay relaxed. Don’t fret or “ooh” and “ah” at the sound of the thunder. Keep your body language calm and be confident to let your pooch know that they don’t need to worry.
You can talk to your dog with a soothing voice. It’s fine to cuddle them if that’s what works – but if they dash to their den or go under the bed, that’s okay too – let them go where they find comfort.
Before the thunderstorm hits, make sure your dog has been to the toilet. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and the sky to stay prepared.
You can take your dog out before the storm and make sure they have some fun. When they utilize their nose, they will feel more calm and relaxed before the arrival of the thunderstorm.
Distract your dog
Learn to distract your furry friends when a thunderstorm strikes. This is a good time to play with them – you can get their favorite toys and work on some doggy puzzles, or you can play their favorite music.
When they are engaged with you, they show less attention to the storm. And for every time they stay calm, give them treats as a reward. This will help take their mind off the storms and with time, they cope very well.
However, do not push or ignore your pooch during a thunderstorm. It’s likely to worsen their condition.
Offer a safe place
You can place your dog’s bed or crate in the most soundproof part of your home. A crate has a huge influence on the comfort level of dogs as these are natural, psychological defenses for these pets.
It can also be helpful to close the blinds and curtains to minimize the noise and to keep your dog away from the visual stimulation of storms.
Another idea is to create a den. This is simple – cover their crate with a sheet. You can also make a dog nest in the bathroom, in a cupboard, or a windowless room. Fill this nest with your dog’s favorite toys, blankets, water bowls, etc. to make them feel safe.
Compete with noise
If you don’t have any soundproof room in your home, you can try to compete with the noise of the thunderstorm. You can use a white noise machine or dog-calming music to help your dog muffle the sound coming from the storm.
Another option to mask the noise is to turn on your radio or TV and play interesting videos. You can get downloads or CDs that replicate storms and other noises. When playing this music, you can either play with your dog or go about your normal routine. This would make them get used to the noises and when thunderstorms eventually come, it becomes nothing to worry about.
You can build up the volume of the music you’re playing over time. This way, you would help increase your dog’s tolerance level. This method works are effective for young dogs that have never experienced storms yet.
Avoid excessive cuddling
Your first instinct, as a dog owner, when your dog is in distress is to soothe them to reassure them that they are safe. However, some dogs hate this as it may seem like you’re trying to justify the fear and make it worse.
More so, cuddling your dog excessively may be seen as a reward for the fear. This can worsen the fear of thunderstorms.
You may think cuddling teaches your pet to cope with a thunderstorm, but in the real sense, it may condition your pet to seek your attention any time they hear the sound of a thunderstorm. This leaves them more vulnerable when you’re away from home.
Try a calming cap
A calming cap is designed to reduce anxiety in dogs during a high-stress situation. This device is basically a single sheet of fabric that is worn on a dog’s eyes to reduce visual stimuli while allowing your dog to do its thing.
This calming cap is originally created to reduce hyperactivity in dogs that become agitated during road trips. The cap works effectively for a variety of situations, including thunderstorms.
Try anti-anxiety medications or sedatives
You can talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s anxiety. Some sedatives or anti-anxiety medications work to reduce anxiety during thunderstorms. But to get a good result, the medication must be given and be absorbed before the thunderstorm starts.
It is best to give you your pooch the sedatives at least one hour prior to the time the storm is expected to begin. Sedatives may help your dog become less aware of sounds and sights, and they might even sleep through the storm, indirectly staying calm and reducing anxiety.
Anti-anxiety drugs, on the other hand, reduces anxiety directly without necessarily calming a pet sufficiently. Some antidepressants are effective when you use them on an ongoing basis. This means you’ll have to use them over the thunderstorm season to prevent or reduce fear.
You can add short-acting drugs like sedatives to antidepressants on the day of the storm. You can also use other possibilities like dog appeasing pheromones and melatonin.
Although medications can be effective in some cases, it is important to use them under veterinary supervision.
Dogs are very sensitive animals and they can easily freak out during a storm. The end result might be destructive both physically and psychologically. That’s more reason you should always step in to help your four-legged friends get relief from their anxiety and fears. The tips above have been proven to be effective in helping dogs cope with the storm. You can try any on your dog and see what works best.
Remember, whatever you’re doing, always ask your vet for advice and help. Some dogs are highly anxious and this can be a serious problem. But a visit to the veterinarian will help you get the best medication to treat this problem. Above all methods, always show your dog much love and care as a sign of protection and safety.