Flashing lights. Booming cracks. Are thunderstorms terrorizing your furry loved one?
Dogs have that fight-or-flight instinct like we do. They hear a loud, scary sound and some may react without a thought. Sadly, they don't always make the right decision. Instead of hiding away temporarily like a cat, dogs try to escape and get as far away from the scariness. That doesn't bode well for them or for you!
You can help your dog in these stressful times, though!
Reward calm behavior. If you aren’t giving your dog praise or treats for being calm, now is the time. You shouldn’t wait until a storm comes. Teach your dog, in advance, that calm, relaxed behavior is appreciated and rewarded!
Create a safe haven. Where does your dog go when a storm approaches? Turn that location into a safe place by providing a cozy bed and a special treat. Ensure that your dog can easily come and go. They shouldn’t feel trapped, so I don’t recommend relying on a crate.
Desensitize. Play CDs (or other media) of thunderstorms to desensitize your dog from the sound. Keep the volume relatively low as you don’t want to scare your pet. This won’t stop their sensitivity to the static electricity or barometric pressure changes, but it can provide some relief.
Engage with your dog. Now is the time to pull out that dog tricks book and reinforce any others that your dog already knows. Ask your dog to perform a task and give him a treat when he does it.
“Dress Up” your dog. We all enjoy snuggling under the covers on dreary, stormy days. Give your dog a snug-fitting shirt to bring comfort. The ThunderShirt® is an option that's proven to work.
- Ask your vet or trainer. They deal with dogs regularly, getting positive and negative feedback from their clients on what works, so they should be able to steer you in the right direction.
If your dog is a repeat escape artist due to fear, a GPS collar is a stress-free tool for knowing where your dog is when he manages to get away.
Have these tips helped? Do you have any not mentioned? Join our community of dog parents by commenting and sharing.
(And don't be shy! Myself and Kodiak are here to answer any dog-related questions you may have. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ask Kodiak” in subject line and it may be featured on this very blog.)