Spring in Central Texas can bring with it some severe weather, often including thunderstorms and hail. We may be grateful for some much needed rain, but many dogs are quite fearful of the loud noises that come with these storms. So, what can pet parents do to ease our dog's fear of storms? Check out these five tips:
Storm Phobia Triggers
There are many reasons your dog may be fearful during storms. Accorinding to Thundershirt, “dog thunderstorm anxiety or fear of noises can arise from a variety or combination of factors. Some dogs have suffered a traumatic event involving loud noises or lightning strikes that creates a historic 'trigger' for them to become anxious. Some dog breeds may have a genetic predisposition towards noise anxiety, while some studies suggest that storm or noise anxiety could be a result of aging or hearing loss.” WebMD cites a myriad of other potential causes, including “wind, thunder, lightning, barometric pressure changes, static electricity, and low-frequency rumbles preceding a storm that humans can't hear. According to one theory, dogs experience painful shocks from static buildup before the storm.”
Easing Your Pet's Fear of Storms
Who can resist a peanut butter-filled Kong?! 1. Be present- Few things will help keep your anxious pet calm better than the presence of their human. Your pet will also sense and emulate your attitude, so it's important to remain relaxed and calm yourself. 2. Provide distractions- The excitement of a new or favorite toy might be the perfect distraction for a fearful pooch. If Fido is not big on toys, try a high value treat such as a long lasting chew- antlers, bully sticks, etc. Simply turning up the music or television loud enough to dull the cracking of thunder does the trick for some dogs (but not all). 3. Have a 'safe place' available- Your furry friend probably already has her preferred safe spot in the house, whether it be her kennel, dog bed, or other. Make this spot readily available during a storm, as this is where she feels most comfortable. PetMD puts it this way: "Hiding (as in a cave) is a natural psychological defense for dogs… Having a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away is an excellent approach, no matter what the fear."
Heidi feels most comfortable in her bed. 4. Try calming aids- We understand you don't want to 'drug' your dog every time a storm rolls in, which is why we carry more natural solutions. Licks ZEN Supplement, My Peaceful Paws, and Pet Naturals Calming treats use active ingredients such as essential oils, chamomile, Vitamin B1, and colostrum calming complex to naturally relax your pet. 5. 'Swaddle' them- If your pup is particularly nervous, look into purchasing a Thundershirt. A Thundershirt has a similar effect on dogs as does swaddling on infants: the gentle hugging has a calming effect on the nervous system. This is great for fireworks, thunderstorms, or any other anxiety-inducing situations. (Note: Thundershirts are available at all Tomlinson’s stores–call your location for colors and sizes.) If these recommendations look familiar- that's because they are! Similar tactics apply if your pup isn't the biggest fan of fireworks. We'd love to hear any other methods that work for you and your pets. Share in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page! Sources: Thundershirt, WebMD, PetMD