How to Calm Down Your Dog During a Thunderstorm
Thunderstorms can be scary. Whether it is the lightning or the intensity of rain, no one likes a thunderstorm. There are dogs that hate it more than others. Some animals might have storm phobia, which leads them to mentally and physically harming themselves during thunderstorms. For any pet owner, this is the worst nightmare. The good news is that you can help your dog during this stressful event.
Here are a few ways you can calm your dog during a thunderstorm.
Stay at Home
When a thunderstorm is forecasted, the first thing you can do to ensure your pet doesn’t get too scared is by canceling all your plans and staying home. Don’t take the risk of stepping out of your home and getting stuck in a thunderstorm. The worst thing you can do to your pet is leaving it alone during a thunderstorm.
Think of it this way. If you are afraid of the darkness and the lights go out when you are all alone, you are more likely to freak out, right? Similarly, some dogs are already scared of storms, and the fact that they have to face their nightmare on their own makes them more stressed. Hence, ensure that you stay at home with your pup. This way, you will be able to distract and comfort it and it would know that it isn’t alone.
Find a Quiet Spot
One of the biggest triggers for dogs with a storm phobia is the sound and sight of lightning. If you can find a way to minimize the two, your dog will be fine. Whether or not you will be able to do so depends on the type of house you live in.
If your house has any room which gets relatively less light and sound, you have the perfect haven for your dog. If you don’t have such a room, you can create one. Take any small room and board up its windows and draw the curtains. You can view the space as a panic room for your dog.
Whenever thunder strikes, huddle up in this room with your dog. Get some warm blankets as well as your dog’s favorite toy. The toy will provide it with enough distraction to avoid the subtle thunderstorm sounds, and the warm blankets will create a cozy environment for your pet.
Turn Off the TV
Loud sounds are what freaks out a dog most about a thunderstorm, it can start barking or even shake out of fear. Anyone who has witnessed a storm would know it can get very loud. These noises are loud enough for your dog to get anxious. It doesn’t need you to add to the level of noise by having the TV or radio on.
If you can’t do anything to reduce the level of storm noise that reaches your dog, make sure you at least cut off other sources of sound. Don’t turn on the TV. If you need to catch up on the news or some show, do so on your laptop with your earphones on. Give your pup as quiet an environment as you can. This will make sure that it doesn’t get overwhelmed and too stressed.
Desensitize Your Pet
Now, this may or may not work. It all depends on how scared your dog is from the thunderstorm. You can try to desensitize it to the sound of the thunderstorm.
To do so, get hold of a thunderstorm sound CD and play this sound every day. Make sure that the volume of the sound is low. In the beginning, your dog will not like this exercise. To calm it down, offer it treats. As your dog becomes desensitized to a given volume, amp it up a bit. Ensure that each subsequent increase in volume is not too loud from the previous one.
Slowly, your dog will become desensitized to the sound of a thunderstorm. While nothing can match the sound intensity of an actual storm, this exercise will desensitize it enough to ensure that it doesn’t get too anxious during the storm.
Mind you, your dog will still need to be calmed down during the storm. This is because the sound, while being an important element, is just one element of the entire scary experience.
Calm it Down
You can also try to massage your dog to calm it down. Some people don’t opt for calming techniques, thinking that it will reinforce the fear and the connected behavior. However, this is not true. Since a dog is very emotional and not focused when it is anxious, it doesn’t get reinforced if you give it a calming massage.
Instead, a massage can make it relaxed and it might get distracted from the anxiety it is feeling. This is why some people also recommend playing games with your dog. Anything that keeps it mind away from it anxiety will calm it down.
Visit a Vet
If all of the above-mentioned efforts fail to reap results, it is time to take your dog to a vet. They might prescribe calming medications to your dog as a solution. Giving your dog meds should never be a viable option unless everything else fails. Thus, ensure that you try all possible methods of calming down your pet.
This is because meds don’t really cure the problem. Instead, they suppress it and make your dog dependent on them. Not to mention that meds tend to have some form of side effects.
Therefore, visit a vet for medications as your last resort. Avoid it as much as you can.
As you can see, having a pup is not all fun and games. You must also take good care of your dog. You are responsible for your loyal friend’s well-being as your pet is dependent on you. Take care of it just like you would take care of any other family member. Thunderstorms can be tough, so understand your doggo and comfort it as much as possible.