There are really no explanations as to why some dogs are terrified of thunder. Some people say it’s from a traumatic event as a puppy. Others say certain breeds are prone to this behavior. Whatever the reason, the fact remains: when it comes to thunder, some dogs panic!
If you’re dog struggles with this phobia, rest assured there are strategies you can use to effectively manage and help their fear. Here are some simple steps you can use next time those dark thunder clouds roll in.
- Try paying attention to YOUR behavior during the storm
Punishment will also increase your pet’s anxiety and panic.
The key is to find that perfect middle ground. Stay calm and relaxed. Act normal and try to engage your pet as you normally would by playing with them, grooming them, or any other activity you would normally do.
- Try changing the environment when a thunderstorm rolls through
- Try using supportive products and therapies
Many dog owners swear by Thundershirt. This is a snug garment that fits snuggly on your pet to give them a swaddling effect, calming the panicked panting and trembling. To complement the use of calming products, you can try therapies such as Ark Naturals Happy Traveler, a botanically based chew that can produce a calming effect, or other calming essential oils or pheromones, such as the canine-calming pheromone DAP. Most of these products and therapies can easily be found at your local pet store or online.
- Try a good workout before the storm.
- Try counterconditioning
- Practice makes perfect
Once you feel they’ve mastered that, the next step is to increase the volume a single notch and repeat the process. If at any time your dog becomes fearful or panicked, go back to the previous volume level, say the cue word, and reward for staying calm. Then when an actual storm takes place, it’s game time. But now your dog has practiced what to do. Simply continue using this same cue word and reward method as when you practiced.
So when it comes to coping with thunder, now you have multiple tools at your disposal…
These six strategies and techniques may very well save your dog much anxiety next time a thunderstorm hits. And even more importantly, they will save you from having to stay up all night every time a thunderstorm rolls through. If you give these steps a try and don’t see any results, there are other extreme methods that can be used, based on the recommendation of your vet. But generally if you follow the steps above, you’ll find they may be all you need conquer your pet’s phobia of thunder.