Is your dog afraid of thunder and lightening ?
Thunder bolts and lightening can be very, very frightening. Some dogs can sense an impending thunderstorm and start shaking as the terror sets in. Common signs that a dog is scared of thunder are excessive panting, uncontrolled urinating, trembling, whining, hiding and they can also frantically try to escape. Is there anything that you can do to help your frightened dog?
Here are some easy tips that you can try. Try switching environments or identify a space where they feel safe and try and make it as comfortable as possible. Nelson, our Pointer, hates storms, so we let him go and climb on our bed. We then close the windows and shut the curtains and put on the TV or radio, trying to create a relaxing environment where he feels safe. You want to try and block out or disguise the noise that they find threatening. Make sure that if your fearful dog is outside there is a safe space, they cannot hurt themselves and most importantly they can’t escape.
Before major events on the calendar that involve fireworks, like New Year’s Eve, you can plan in advance and administer natural calming remedies or consult your vet for something stronger if necessary. The other really fantastic calming tool is using pressure to relieve anxiety. The Thundershirt applies gentle, constant pressure on the dog’s torso. This pressure has an outstanding calming effect for most dogs. It is the same principle as mothers swaddling an infant or using pressure blankets. I use Thundershirts on my dogs and it really helps to reduce their anxiety in storms and other stressful occurrences, like moving to a new house, dealing with separation anxiety, barking problems and car or travel anxiety.
Before a thunderstorm or bad weather rolls in, try and increase exercise and take your dog for a nice long walk or run. Exercise can increase the serotonin levels and help naturally calm your dog. Also try diverting their attention with a favourite toy or maybe a special high value treat. Make them work for that treat, this way they are focussing on you rather that the surroundings.
There is no easy fix, but there are a number of things that you can do to help your storm-phobia dog better handle the thunder and lightning so it is not so very, very frightening.