Originally Posted On: https://dogportal.org/how-to-help-a-dog-that-is-afraid-of-thunderstorms/
Dogs are excellent pets and loved family members. They protect our houses and are our heroes barking at suspicious characters. But, if you’ve had your dog for a while, you must have noticed that he has his own fears too. Most dog owners know that their dogs fear thunder, fireworks, loud noises even in the kitchen, and other ambient sounds that we often don’t notice as much.
It seems that not only are some adults and children afraid of thunder, but our dogs have the same response as well. It is common to observe noise phobia in dogs and to see signs of stress and anxiety in their behavior in response to loud environmental noises. In addition to running, barking loudly, and moaning in fear when there is thunder, you may also see them drool, urinate, or defecate uncontrollably. In severe cases, they can escape onto streets and highways, running as fast as possible to get away from loud noises because they are afraid. These are just a few of the common behaviors dogs display for fear of thunder and most environmental sounds.How to Help a Dog That is Afraid of Thunderstorms
Storm phobia in dogs is very common. However, veterinarians and animal behavior specialists cannot identify the reasons for this. If your dog is terrified of thunderstorms, there are several ways you can help him, but unfortunately, it is almost impossible to cure the phobia completely.
A recent study, conducted by veterinarian Nancy Dreschel, found that around 15-30% of dogs experience some form of anxiety during a storm. In its mildest forms, it can cause shaking, groaning, and dissimulation. However, in more severe cases, a terrified dog can destroy furniture and scratch carpets, windows, and doors.Why are some dogs afraid of storms?
As mentioned above, there is no consensus on what causes a dog’s fear. Anxiety can be caused by the loud noises of thunder, rain, and wind. On the other hand, it may be the change in air pressure that confuses and distresses a dog. Some dog owners notice an improvement in their dog’s fear as they age and begin to lose hearing. Also, in general, dogs that are afraid during thunderstorms are also afraid of fireworks and other loud noises. So the sound is definitely an important factor.
Storm phobia can be seen in all breeds of dogs, but working dogs (shepherds, hunting dogs, retrievers, etc.) and sporting dogs are said to be more susceptible to storm anxiety. It’s also common to see a storm phobia in rescue dogs, which may be due to a spooky pup. This suggests that a dog’s fear of thunderstorms is caused by genetic factors and previous life experiences. In other words, it is both nature and education.Desensitizing a dog with a storm phobia
Desensitization can be effective, but it is by no means a solution for all dogs. It is an extremely gradual process of exposing a dog to low-level storm effects while providing an enjoyable experience, such as a game, a favorite treat, or lots of petting and whining. Although it is effective, it can be a very long process, as it has to be repeated several times and the sound of the storm effects has to increase by small amounts each time. This is a very difficult process that, if not handled properly, can make the fear of the dog worse. Therefore, if a dog shows signs of fear, the process must be stopped immediately.Medicines
Depending on the severity of your dog’s storm phobia, a vet may prescribe antidepressants or anxiolytics. However, you may prefer to take the natural route. There are several holistic anti-anxiety treatments available, such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage, or herbal remedies. However, it is wise to seek the advice of a veterinarian before exploring any of these options.How to help your dog during a storm
The most important thing is that you don’t yell or scold your dog for his behavior when he’s scared. Remember, he or she acts out of fear, without being malicious, and an angry owner will only exacerbate their terror.
If your dog has a specific hiding place, such as under a bed, make sure it can get there without difficulty. You can also provide extra blankets in your dog’s hideaway, as they will help reduce vibration.
Close the curtains so that your dog cannot see the rain and the effects of the wind. If you have thick curtains, these can also help prevent glare from light. Also, your dog may benefit from listening to soft music, but it is important that you choose something relaxing and not too rock n ‘roll.
The most important thing is to make sure that you and other family members stay as calm as possible during a storm and give your dog a lot of peace of mind.
Storm phobia cannot be treated, but we can do a lot of things to help our pooch when he is confronted with it. Love always comes first. Act with love and care.