Why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms?
Thunderstorms, accompanied by flashing lights and loud noises, often trigger fear in sensitive dogs due to their heightened senses. The sound of thunder, rain, and wind from all directions can intensify anxiety in some dogs, potentially leading to emotional distress and heightened sensitivity to other sounds. Another theory on why some dogs display restlessness during storms is that is stems from a sense of insecurity.
Behaviors such as hiding, gasping for breath, excessive drooling, incessant barking, and whimpering signify a fear of thunder. And it is during these moments, it is crucial for their guardians to remain calm and maintain normalcy to teach them they are safe and protected. Providing reassurance and comfort to the anxious dog is essential in their dealing with dog storm anxiety.
How to calm your dog during thunderstorms
Create a safe and comfortable environment
Creating a secure haven during thunderstorms involves designating a quiet retreat for your dog, such as a cozy corner or crate. Dampen noise by shutting windows and using curtains. Employ calming music or white noise to lessen the sound of the thunder's impact.
Add a soft blanket or cushion to make their resting place as cozy as possible. It is also a good idea to move your dog's bed/crate from the windows to reduce the intensity of outside sounds and flashing lights.
Train yourself to be desensitized to situations
Dogs find thunder and rain unsettling. Familiarizing them through gradual exposure can help treat how they cope with these uncomfortable stimuli. Gradual exposure coupled with positive conditioning can help lessen your dog's storm anxiety. Initiate by playing low-volume storm sounds from your phone or speaker during enjoyable activities. As their comfort grows, gradually increase the volume each time. Reward composure with treats and praise, helping along to desensitize your dog to storm-related stimuli.
Certain scents, like lavender and chamomile, possess calming properties for dogs. Use essential oil diffusers or specially dog-formulated sprays in their living space to create a soothing atmosphere.
However, it's crucial to consult your veterinarian before using essential oils, as some can be harmful to dogs. Properly diluted and pet-safe oils can promote relaxation in your dog during storms.
Veterinarian prescribed sedative
In severe cases, it may be best to get your veterinarian’s recommendation on their fear of thunderstorms. A veterinarian may recommend short-term sedatives to alleviate extreme anxiety during thunderstorms. These medications are tailored to your dog's specific needs and are best used under professional guidance. Sedatives will help lower your dog's stress levels, allowing them to navigate the storm with reduced fear. Regular consultation with your vet ensures safe and appropriate usage.
Other ways to calm your puppy during a storm
If your dog is anxious, it's likely that it's fear of a situation he hasn't been through.
If your dog experiences anxiety during storms, it is often linked to unfamiliarity in these types of situations. Experiencing something like a thunderstorm for the first time can be alarming. When anticipating any loud noises, divert your dog's focus using their favorite toys or treats. Your calm presence as a guardian is crucial in aiding their response to new situations as well.
If it seems your dogs sensitivity to loud noises goes beyond the sound of thunder, it may be best to seek expert guidance in identifying their triggers. In which case, professional training or behavioral specialist may be your best option to address these concerns effectively.
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