April showers bring May flowers, so it’s no surprise to anyone that springtime means storms. So why is this a problem? Thunderstorms! If you’re a dog owner, you’re going to want to be prepared for spring thunderstorms. If your dog reacts poorly to loud situations, read through our tips on how to prepare and calm your pup during these difficult moments in their lives.
Why are Dogs Scared of Storms?
There are many different thoughts as to why storms induce anxiety in dogs and send them running for the nearest table to hide under. Besides the loud sounds, recent studies have shown booming thunder is only just a small part of why dogs panic. Some of the most agreed upon theories include a combination of the following:
All the above are responsible for inducing anxiety, but one of the most supported ideologies is static electricity. It is believed dogs experience painful shocks from static buildup before, during, and after the storm. This is why you’ll often find your pet in the bathtub because porcelain blocks electricity from traveling.
Dogs tend to become more panicky as the thunderstorm season continues. They remember their previous stress during a storm, which heightens their anxiety even more. As storms become more frequent in the later summer months, you should know how to spot if a dog is uneasy.
Dog Anxiety Symptoms During Storms
It’s important to determine when your fluffy friend’s anxiety becomes evident. There are many symptoms showing this distress:
- Restlessness & pacing
- Clinging to humans
- Hyperventilating & panting
- Shaking & trembling
- Increased heart rate
- Hiding in confined places
- Dilated pupils
- Barking & whining
- Chewing & scratching – destructive behavior
Once you’re capable of identifying when your dog is having a panic attack, it becomes imperative to help your little buddy.
How to Prepare For Dogs Reacting To Storms
One of the best ways to prepare your doggo for thunder or loud booms is to classically condition your pup before it’s too late. During your puppy’s early stages, whenever they are faced with irritating noises, give them a treat or show them love. This positive reinforcement will condition your dog to associate loud noises with happy relations: treats and love.
According to the American Kennel Club, a successful method is to gradually desensitize your doggo to loud noises. Introduce your pup progressively to the “fear” noises by replicating the sound at a very low volume and praise them when they show a positive response.
Even rewarding your pup for calm behavior year-round can proactively prepare for storms and other loud noises. Copious amounts of preparation can still not be enough to fully ready your hound for the storms that lie ahead, so we investigated how to calm your dog during a storm and other loud experiences.
How To Calm A Dog During A Storm
Fortunately, there are multiple approaches to calming your dog during a storm.
Safe place: Create a safe space for your pup where they feel comfortable. Some ideas include a porcelain bathtub, their crate, and the basement. Some dogs love their crate, making it easy to facilitate it as their safe space. Basements are good for many reasons: they are colder, less noisy, and there is less static electricity underground. Familiarize your dog with the chosen safe space and reward them there; bring them toys, give them treats, and do whatever will make your dog relaxed. Come storm time, make sure to get your dog to his safe space to reduce oncoming anxiety.
Be there: Your dog loves you. You love your dog. Be there for them! You are the center of their world so it makes sense your presence will soothe and calm them. Play with them, pet them, and show them love. Remain calm yourself because if they sense anxiety or distress in you, it will only increase their nervousness.
Distract your dog: This is why it’s important to be with your dog. If you are constantly playing with them, petting them, or giving them treats, they will be easily distracted from the storm. Try and make the experience as pleasurable for them as possible.
Ask your vet: Just like anything animal related, always consult your veterinarian. They may have recommended medications for your dogs, or suggestions that cannot be found online or treated with homemade remedies. After all, they are the experts!
Don your dog with a snug garment: Garments have been recommended to calm dogs. The added pressure from the garment helps soothe the animal to quiet and calm them down. Keep reading to learn about dog storm jackets.
Dog Storm Jacket
We discussed putting a snug garment on your pup during storms. There is a similar store-bought alternative for your dog called a storm jacket. The storm jacket is designed to apply pressure to the animal’s torso, which causes a calming effect. There has been little research to verify if this type of vest works, but there are countless anecdotes citing their success.
Some argue that the pressure is uncomfortable, therefore your dog may seem less anxious, but actually still is. People theorize the pressure and uncomfortableness simply inhibits the dog from moving. Regardless of what you hear, always consult your veterinarian.
One of the most important things to remember if you do use a storm vest is to acclimate your pup to their jacket. If you don’t, they will always associate scary noises to their jacket. Have them wear it randomly from time to time and shower them with love and positive reinforcement. If you’re looking to buy, Chewy and Amazon both have great options of storm jackets for your pup.
Dogs, Storms, & Anxiety—CBD Oils
A new-age approach to helping your dog calm down is with CBD oils; however, a common misconception is that your dog gets high. It’s vital to note CBD oils are made from hemp so your dog is not getting high. These oils work by bonding with endocannabinoid receptors in the animal’s brain. There is a chemical imbalance when anxiety occurs and CBD oil helps fix this imbalance, calming your dog down.
Dogs and Fireworks
What else is associated with spring and summer that could also create anxiety for your pet? Fireworks! People love firework shows, but most dogs do not. Luckily, firework shows are typically planned, allotting you extra time to prepare! We hope to help you and your doggo through the turmoil that ensues.
If you know there will be fireworks, try to find someone to watch your beloved pet out of the proximity of the firework show. While this is the only way to entirely ensure no anxiety, it isn’t always that easy. Other recommendations are very similar to the suggestions for preparing your dog for a storm.
- Create a safe space
- Keep them in their crate if they enjoy it
- Be there for them
- Expose them to loud firework noises beforehand by desensitizing
If you properly prepare your pup and follow our guidelines to reducing their anxiety, storms and fireworks should be a much easier process. Remember to always show your dog love and demonstrate to them that there is nothing wrong and they are safe.
If you want to further ensure your dog’s happiness, health, and safety, why not retrieve a free pet insurance quote and see if Prudent Pet is right for you and your furry ball of love.