How To Help Your Dog Cope With Thunderstorms

thunderstorm

For many pet parents spring and summer are the beginning of amazing outdoor adventures but for some of their furry friends that’s a whole ‘nother story. To some it equates to anxiety and fear of impending thunderstorms leading to a number of unusual behaviors and concerning glances from pet parents. Knowing that your pet is anxious is one thing in itself but then not knowing what to do to help them can beĀ flat out distressing.

Is Your Pet Showing Any of These Signs?

  • Panting
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Pacing
  • Barking/Whining or howling
  • Destructive behavior
  • Drooling
  • Following pet parent around
  • Self harm (chewing on paws or other body parts)
  • Peeing/Pooping in home
  • Hiding

If your pet is showing any combination of these then he/she may be suffering from anxiety or stress due to thunderstorms. It’s not uncommon for your pet to behave this way so I wouldn’t feel bad or worry about them being afraid of storms. Every pet has their own quirk and I wouldn’t be surprised if the dog next door had a bad case of storm anxiety too!

 

What You Can Do To Help

There are a number of things you can do to help your pup cope with thunderstorms, way more than I was able to list within this blog post! What may work for one dog may not always work for another so you have to be patient, open-minded and try different techniques until you find something that works for your pup. It may take a few storms to get it right or you may get lucky and nail it on the first try, just don’t give up!

1. Create a Safe Place

This has to be the single most important thing when it comes to helping your pup cope with thunderstorms. They need to feel safe and secure and one way you can accomplish that is by providing a place for them to hide out.

My shepherd for instance is scared of the wind. Not your typical breeze but when it gets windy out and things start milling about she tends to run for cover, usually hiding out in the closet, bathroom (in the tub to be more specific, hurricane and tornado prepared over here), or snuggling up to the closest person. In the case of our dog we managed to allocate a small spot for her to squeeze into located in our closet. It’s easily accessible, pretty comfortable with blankets and towels and she can go in and out whenever she needs to.

Many people opt to use a crate. They line it with their pets bed or blankets and then in some instances cover it with a blanket to limit their pets’ exposure of the storm. They also include their pets food, toys and water so their pet is as comfortable as can be and has all his necessities within reach. The same can be applied if you choose to use a separate bedroom as your pets safe place. Just be sure that the room you are using has all windows covered to again reduce the amount of exposure to your pet. You wouldn’t want your pet to be in a room where they can see and hear the storm the entire time, they probably wouldn’t last very long in the there.

2. Distraction Helps

I’ve found that music or noise from the TV helps to drown out the sound of the gusting winds and thunder that comes from storms. Some of my clients’ dogs who also suffer from anxiety to thunderstorms swear that this method works and helps alleviate a considerable amount of stress from their dog.

3. Desensitize

Playing a sound track that mimics the sounds of a thunderstorm is a great way to get your pup used to them. The theory behind this is the more familiar they get with the sounds the less stressed out by them they’ll be. Although this technique does sound great on paper it may not be as effective because it doesn’t accurately mimic the sounds as well as the smells and pressure that a real thunderstorm would have, so you’d have to test it out for yourself and see if it works.

4. Natural Remedy

Rescue remedy is a great tool to use as it’s 5 flower essences help sooth and calm pets that are under a considerable amount of stress. These can usually be found at any pet boutique or you can always order it online.

5. Thunder Jackets

Thunder jackets are increasing in popularity and have proven very helpful in alleviating some pets’ anxiety in regards to storms. These jackets are designed to fit snugly mimicking the swaddling sensation that is ironically comforting to them. This is similar to the technique used in babies!

 

Hopefully you and your furry friend can find peace this spring or summer as thunderstorms approach and enjoy what this season has to offer, including the rainy days. If you’ve tried any of these techniques or know of any technique that may also be helpful feel free to leave your comments below!

 

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Lori Waters

Lori Waters

Animal Expert Extraordinaire! at The Litter Sitter, inc.
Lori Waters is the author and voice behind Thee Inside Poop as well as the owner and operator of The Litter Sitter, a local dog walking and pet sitting company in Miami Beach, FL. When she's not busy blogging and taking care of clients' pets you can find her running around with her german shepherd Zoey or having in-depth conversations with her two fur balls, Michi and Oakley!
Lori Waters