Many of our clients have called us to ask for help with their dog's thunderstorm fears. Here are some quick tips that may help alleviate, or lessen, your pet's thunderstorm fear:
Develop a retraining program with your veterinarian at Animal Hospital of North Asheville to desensitize your dog to storms. This can include playing a soft tape with recorded thunder and rewarding your dog with treats when he/she exhibits no anxiety. Over time, the intensity of the storm music may be increased and only calm behavior rewarded. Use caution – introducing stimuli too quickly can actually increase the phobia!
If retraining does not work, consider asking your veterinarian for anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication to help keep your dog calm during storms.
Try padding a crate with blankets or clearing a "safe place" under a bed where your dog can seek comforting shelter. Make sure it is a place your pet can get into and out of easily.
Make sure YOU remain calm when your dog is fearful. This can increase your pet’s sense of security.
Do not cuddle or reassure your dog when it storms. Rewarding fearful behavior can reinforce it. However, it is important that you never punish or scold your dog for being fearful either. Just remain calm and provide a safe familiar place where your dog can securely ride out the storm.
The families of some pets have found that creating "white noise" during a storm can help their pets. This is noise such as running an electric fan or playing the television that blocks out the storm noise and distracts your dog.
Increasing exercise on days when storms are expected can tire out your dog and make it less aware of storm noise. In addition, the added exercise increases natural serotonin levels that can calm your pet.
Be sure to bring your dog inside at the first sign of a storm to lessen anxiety. Stay with your pet while it is inside because the anxiety of the storm can cause some dogs to become destructive. Your presence will help keep your pet calm.