As you may already know, dogs are generally not very keen on stormy weather. And if you have a furry friend of your own, you might be familiar with “thunder phobia,” or the anxious behavior exhibited by both cats and dogs when storms pass overhead (they may even sense a storm’s presence before we do). Although thunder phobia does wane as blustery weather subsides, here are a few simple ways to soothe your canine…
First: take care to close all windows and doors in your house in case your dog is tempted to flee in a panic. Notice where he seeks safety within your home during the storm – chances are he will gravitate towards the more secluded, cave-like places in your home. He may even dive into the bathtub! And that’s fine — giving him full access to come and go in the areas where he feels safest will calm his nerves and help him feel less trapped during the storm.
Distract your dog with his favorite games and special treats. Just like kids, distractions are sometimes your best bet. Some dogs have even shown a positive response to gentle music. Nothing is off the table! Experiment with ways to draw his attention elsewhere – you never know what will comfort your anxious pup.
Remain calm, even as your dog pants or trembles, and avoid cooing or coddling, which could exacerbate and even encourage his anxious behavior. Instead, confidently and calmly reassure your dog that everything is okay, then offer a distraction – a squeaky toy, a tasty bone, or even a cozy blanket to burrow under.
If your dog is inconsolably miserable, consider a thundershirt, which applies even and gentle pressure to relieve stress and calm nerves. Although it might not “cure” your dog’s symptoms, it may be just the thing to relieve some of his tension.
Lastly, make sure your dog has plenty of water, and keep your attention on him until the storm passes.