I’ve had a number of clients call about their dog’s unusual behavior and/or fear due to thunderstorms. With spring here, we’re bound to have many storms in the next few weeks accompanied by lightning and heavy rain. Here are a few ideas to help you and your dog handle the unsettling noises, sights and chaos of a storm.
Create a safe place. Ideally this would be her crate or bed. You may need to cover the crate with a blanket and close the curtains. In many cases, the dog will identify the safe place. One client’s dog chose the bathtub as her safe place. Put some favorite toys and water bowl in the safe place.
Secure her collar and tags. Make sure her microchip is up-to-date. Dogs afraid of thunder may bolt out the door, so confine her or make sure your doors are locked.
Be normal. Don’t try to calm her with soothing voice tones that may be confused as praise. Behaving differently can be a cue for your dog to be concerned.
Place a pet rescue alert sticker on your door or window. You’ll want rescue personnel to know about your pets in case of disaster in your home. Send me an e-mail at email@example.com with your address and window decal in the subject line and I’ll send you one free of charge.
Block out the noise. In addition to blocking out the visual stimuli, we need to block the loud booms. You might turn on the TV, white noise machine or bathroom fan. I’m a fan of bioacoustic music such as Through A Dog’s Ear CDs.
Alternatives to medical approaches are also useful. Anxiety wraps such as Thundershirt have been successful. Some clients have had success with Bach’s Rescue Remedy or a pheromone calming collar. Some clients’ dogs have benefitted from aromatherapy such as Earth Heart’s Canine Calm
Desensitization or counterconditioning. Do you remember these terms from Psych 101? These techniques can be successful but take time.
Medicine. Talk to your veterinarian about prescriptions that may help.
Almost all of these suggestions will need to be practiced and implemented before the storms arrive. So when the weather is calm, take advantage of calm and start preparing your dog.