Does your furry friend become terribly scared, desperate and probably paralyzed by thunderstorms?
As a dog lover, maybe it would give you some solace to know the behavior isn’t unique to your dog. Experts estimate that up to 30 percent of dogs are affected by the rumblings of thunderstorms to a certain degree.
The summer season is fast-approaching, and as is the norm, the sky will darken, thunder will rumble, and the rain will come pouring down. Your dog may enter into a state of panic, pace, pant uncontrollably, tuck his tail and run to hide anywhere that may seem secure.
Although thunderstorms terrify some dogs, others are indifferent to the sound and lightning. Read on to learn why your dog is scared and how to soothe him whenever it happens.
Why Are Dogs Scared of Thunderstorms?
Your dog is afraid of thunderstorms because he doesn't understand what it really is. He perceives thunderstorms as something threatening.
Sure, the noise is what triggers the fear in dogs, but the unsettling roaring sound is just a part of what causes the fear.
Studies by researchers and veterinaries reveal that during thunderstorms, dogs enter into a state of panic due to the uncomfortable feeling of the static electricity.
It so happens that the static charges prompt a feeling of tingling on the dogs’ fur, which they find uncomfortable. By MoBuay via shutterstock
And according to Dr. Nicholas Dodman of the Cummings School of Medicine at Tufts University, your dog will experience not one but several shocks from static electricity.
How to Soothe & Protect Your Dog Who Suffers Extreme Thunderstorm Anxiety
When thunderstorms roar and lightings flash, your dog becomes super terrified as they have zero clues of what’s happening.
It can be a disheartening experience to watch your canine friend suffer helplessly as he searches for places to bury his head. At this time, you’ll need some indoor dog potty grass as he cannot leave his den.
But your advantage, we’ve found ways you can help your friend manage anxiety during the seemingly unending duration of thunderstorms and lightning.
Create a Distraction
Petfinder recommends that whenever thunderstorms start, you can provide a distraction or an underground noise, so it somewhat drowns out the noise from the thunder.
Reportedly, classical music can help bring a calming effect and lower thunderstorm sensitivity and anxiety. You can also use some white noise. The sound of the dryer or the laundry machine can help soften the cracking noise of the thunderstorm, too.
Besides, you can play with your pooch to help drift his mind off the thunderstorms and lightning and consequently lower the anxiety. You must have equipped your dog with housebreaking skills and then provide indoor potty for dogs. That way, he doesn’t poop or wet just any surface inside the house.
Consider Thunder Treats
If your dog has mild cases of storm anxiety, you could use simple counterconditioning technique to ease the anxiety. Bring your dog’s favorite toy or get him an extra-yummy long-lasting treat like chicken and cheese to engage his mind, ears, and mouth.
Pairing the storm with something your dog loves will help condition his mind to always associate the loud thunder noise to something he likes, according to an animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell.
Besides, counterconditioning is also an effective approach for preventing puppies who’ve had little to no exposure to thunderstorms from developing a phobia.
While at it, make sure you bring your pet potty inside the house with you as an alternative to pee pads, just in case.
Create a Comfy Place for Him to Hide
During storms, it's common for dogs to run in a panic searching for places to hide. Your fury will go under the table or enter into the bathtub where he feels secure. If that happens, let him. Somehow, it might help alleviate his fear of the thunderstorms and lightning.
Moreover, you might consider creating a comfortable place for your dog to hide. For instance, designate some space in your house such as the basement without windows to serve as a dog’s den. On the floor, you could lay pillows, blanks, fake grass or even real grass capable working like a dog bathroom on which he can lay comfortably.
If that’s not possible, get a crate, add some cozy material such as pillows, let your dog jump inside and cover him with a blanket until the storm is over.
A Calming Jacket May Help
Some pet parents have reported promising results when they play dress-up on their thunder sensitive pooches. You could purchase products such as Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap to manage the thunder-phobia.
Calming jackets apply gentle and steady pressure comparable to sartorial acupressure. They provide a false sense of being gently held.
Buy Storm Defender
You could consider buying a storm defender for your furry friend. During a thunderstorm, the changes in the atmosphere lead to the build-up of static electricity which upon reaching the dog’s coat cause unsettling shocks. Storm defenders feature a silver anti-static lining and help block the static electricity.
Snuggles are highly therapeutic. Sooth and reassure your dog that all will be fine as you cuddle. You can lay a wee wee pad on the couch to avoid spoiling it. While at it, avoid scolding him or frantic movements as they’ll heighten the anxiety.
Seek Help from a Certified Veterinary Behaviorist
Managing your dog thunder-phobia is more of trial and error to see what approaches works best. If nothing else seems to help manage the anxiety, don’t let your dog suffer.
A veterinarian with expertise in severe cases of dog anxiety can help. A veterinarian will recommend the best type of medication to give your dog every time there’s a thunderstorm.
While it’s noble to feel concerned about the safety of your dog, it turns that too much sympathy may aggravate the problem. Sympathizing too much and excessively comforting your dog will actually reinforce his fear of the storms. Just make sure you don’t go overboard or make a fuss out of it.
The rumbling of thunderstorms is scary both to the humans and dogs. As such, always be there to soothe and protect your dog. DoggieLawn is a company that offers pet parents like you with all natural, convenient pet potty solutions for dog use throughout. Our DoggieLawn real grass provides your dog easy access to the bathroom, has no strong odor associated with pee pads and other litter boxes and saves you the clean-up trouble. For more info regarding our pet potty products, call 310-853-8997.