I was a terrible dog owner, I laughed really hard when I saw how my new dog reacted to storms. Also, I was watching our dog whine, whimper, and try to physically jump into our laps.
I suppose that I did not really think of animals being afraid of thunder and lightning. I realize many people, my daughter in law for one.
Somehow though, watching the different reactions was an eye-opening realization to me.
Your dog cries
Yes, it is true. When your dog is afraid they can cry and do, quite often. As if the whining and whimpering were not enough, add drying tears to the mix. Ugh!!! Well, those people who react that way probably should not have a pet of any sort.
A dog becomes a member of the family. One that you love, cherish, and play with. When your child is afraid of storms, what do you do? Most human beings show compassion. When your dog comes to you during a storm, be there to wipe her tears.
Speak to your dog when she is whining and whimpering. Not only does that show the animal that you care, but it is also comforting for them to hear your voice. Speaking in a calming voice has been shown to help many dogs,
Make a place for them
In the lowest room of your home, make a room filled with comfort for your beloved dog. When they feel anxious you can train them to go to the room and lay down.
Hopefully, this room is closed off and has no windows. This can prevent the dog from seeing and hearing the weather taking place. The room should have food and water, a comfortable place for your dog to lay down, and a toy.
Instead of a toy, you could also place an item of your clothing on the bed. Being able to smell your scent, this may actually calm them down when you are not home.
It may be that your dog becomes storm anxious. I have since learned that this does happen to many canines. Generally, if there was a traumatic incident in the dog’s life this could exacerbate the way the dog feels.
Storytime here, I mentioned my dog earlier for a reason. This is a black lab that we found listed on a local site to be given away. Turns out the farmer found this dog and some pups and brought her to his barn.
What became my dog had just had a litter of pups and had been dropped off, presumably. The previous owner decided he did not want her when she became pregnant. The weather had been extremely stormy at that time and this poor dog was left all alone.
By the time I saw the listing, all pups had found a home by then. Momma was the only one left and she was a wreck! Our first storm together involved a lot of cuddling and holding her tight.
The vet has stated that it is canine PTSD. One more bit of proof that animals have emotions and understanding.
Play some music
It is possible that some music will help your dog to relax. As far as trying to eliminate the fear for her, one suggestion is to keep a phone playing gentle storm sounds while you are around. To begin, play it at a low volume.
When your dog reacts, bring the phone closer to her where she can hear the sounds. Then let it play for a few minutes more and shut it off.
Doing this regularly, where the dog will hear the sounds and you reassure her will help her to understand it is okay.
After a few times, the sounds can be adjusted to a little louder and left for a little longer before you reassure her. This may need to happen quite a few times, but it should ultimately teach the dog that it will not last long.
Be there and be strong
When it seems that you can find nothing that helps, sit on the floor, and hold your dog. Something as simple as holding her, letting her lay her head on your lap can do wonders to calm the anxiety and panic for your dog.
Thunder shirt or vests
Yes, there really are such things! Simply put, it is basically a vest or shirt type garment that is a snug fit. In a sense, it applies acupressure to certain areas of the dog that will help to calm her or him down.
These are said to be of great help for car anxiety, separation anxiety, and other symptoms of stress for canines.
There are OTC medicines and herbal supplements that can be given to your dog at the first sign of a storm, or right before the storm is set to hit your area.
Herbal supplements are not highly recommended by Veterinarians, as there is no substantial evidence it can help and that it is safe for your dog.
There are, however, many vets who will suggest a very low dose of Benadryl to calm the dog’s fears down. This helps with anxiety also.
Many dogs that suffer from anxiety through a storm are mainly that way because they do not understand what a storm is. They do not comprehend lightning and thunder.
However, they do become uncomfortable due to the static charge in the air. Working with your dog to desensitize from the storm sounds is a great plan.
Turning the television or music louder during a storm may help to block the sounds from the storm from reaching your puppy’s ears.
If you notice that your dog’s behavior has drastically changed in a short time, look to the skies. Your dog is able to sense and smell a storm for about 20 minutes before it reaches you.
Rest assured that many dogs will grow out of this phase. For those who receive no assistance from the owners, this could be a life-altering situation.