It can be difficult to watch your dog become anxious, afraid, and restless during a thunderstorm. When dogs start to hide in small spaces, pants and pace, cling closely to their owners, and act in a bizarre panic, this is called thunderstorm phobia. And it is very real.
With the acute hearing that dogs have, they are often able to hear the far off rumbles of the start of a storm. Moreover, some research suggests that they can sense a drop in barometric pressure and the start up of winds before a thunderstorm begins.
Fortunately, as your dog’s owner, there are certain things you can do to help your dog calm down and alleviate some of their anxiety. Follow these guidelines to make thunderstorms less of a terrible experience for your dog.
3 Guidelines To Help Your Dog Cope With A Thunderstorm
• Have a quiet space for your dog to go.
First, understand that dogs want to go into a tight, close spaces, so make this available for them if you can. If at all possible, choose a space or a room that is in the center of your home and one should not have doors or windows to the outside. There, you can put on some soft music or just sit on the ground with your dog and play with them. Creating this quiet, inner space where your dog can calm down is helpful because it will make the presence of the thunderstorm less noticeable.
Keep in mind, however, that your dog may not like the space you provide for them for some unknown-to-you reason. In this case, do what your dog wants to do. For example, they may want to go into the basement to stand behind a bookcase. If that’s what they want to do, try to make that space available to them. However, keep in mind that they may appreciate having you nearby as well, and you should also keep an eye on them to make sure that they do not partake in any destructive behavior. Some dogs get so anxious during thunderstorms that they may begin to claw at drywall or attempt to tunnel through the carpet.
• Distract your dog.
Contrary to what you may think, you should not coddle your dog too much during a thunderstorm. If they stand or sit next to you and seem to become calmer when you pet them or give them a little hug, that’s good. But some dogs will react negatively to being coddled because this extra attention will heighten their feeling that something bad is happening.
For these dogs, it’s better to create distractions. For example, try playing games with your dog, get a ball for some fetch in the living room, or do some tricks and provide treats.
• Try a Thundershirt.
You might also consider investing in a Thundershirt. These are brand name animal “shirts” designed to gently “hug” your dog during a thunderstorm. Some research suggests that the slight tightness makes dogs feel better. You can also make your own by using Ace bandage wraps around your dog’s tummy. Just don’t strap the bandage on too tight.
Finally, if you can, try to be home when a thunderstorm happens. This isn’t always possible of course, but your dog will greatly appreciate it if they know you are at least near during this stressful time.an
To learn more information, don’t hesitate to contact Memorial Road Pet Hospital at (405) 478-3417!