When summer storms approach and the abundant down pours give relief to the dogs day of summer, actual dogs may be shaking and trembling out of fear. If your pooch heads under the bed at the first sign of an upcoming storm and you live in an area where all summer long there are bolts and rumbles, you will certainly have an unpleasant season to come.
After all, let’s put ourselves in our dog’s outfit for one moment. Rover’s hearing devices are very sensitive as they pick up the slightest noises, so let’s imagine what a loud rumble of thunder may feel like to a dog. Plus, add the vibrations carried along with the loudest rumbles and soon you will get the idea why your dog afraid of thunder and is hiding helplessly in a corner desperately seeking an escape route.
Helping a dog cope with thunder is not an easy task. Some dogs may get extremely anxious even up to a point of requiring sedatives from their veterinarians. It is not unusual to hear a veterinarian call in a prescription for sedatives to a local pharmacy for dogs that are extremely fearful during summer storms of for the Fourth of July fireworks.
However, before getting to a point of becoming destructive and extremely anxious, owners may help their dogs overcome this fear if taken care of before it becomes an annoying habit.
This means exposing your dog gradually to the noises until he/she becomes accustomed to it. However, how can you organize a thunder storm? In such cases, audio tapes come in handy. There are many New Age tapes that replicate thunderstorms often accompanied by music for a soothing effect. Expose your dog gradually to the noise. Try to put the tape on at your dog’s dinner time so that he associates the thunder with the pleasant sensation of eating.
When a thunder storm approaches, turn on the television or a radio. This underlying mumbling white noise may help cover up some of the thunder, making it appear less threatening. White noise also plays a reassuring effect as the television on is something the dog is already accustomed to and that may give a reassuring effect.
The weather forecast announces approaching thunder storms? Time to get out your dog’s favorite toys! Before your dog gets too much involved in becoming fearful, don’t allow your dog to get a chance to pay much attention to the outside concert. Get the tennis balls out and play a good game of fetch and make the game fun and exciting. Or if your dog is very food oriented, stuff a Kong with the best treats ever or invest in a bully stick.
Do Not Reassure
Whatever you do, do not baby talk your dog, pet him or reassure him much. In a dog’s world this means that you are actually telling your dog that it is OK to be fearful and that it is a welcomed sensation. Next time, your dog will react the same way and your dog will be stuck in fearful state of mind because “mommy says it is OK”.
Ask for medications
As mentioned, your vet may prescribe some medications that may calm your dog down. While these meds are helpful, they work best if associated with behavior modification techniques so your dog may be weaned off the medication gradually. Try this page for giving Benadryl to dogs fearful of thunder.
One of the main complications of dogs that fear loud noises is that they tend to expand their fear to other areas. For instance, a dog that fear firecrackers will shortly thereafter also fear the person that is tossing them, and so a dog fearful of thunder will fear lightening or gloomy dark clouds. Action, therefore, must be taken before the fear becomes a phobia and takes over your dog’s well being. A dog behaviorist consultation may be necessary in severe cases.
Just because the weather man has predicted a not so great forecast does not mean it is predicted for your dog to become a shaky, little fellow hiding under the blanket. With proper treatment, if caught early, you may turn your dog into a dog that cares less about all mother’s nature fuss.
*Disclaimer: All remedies suggested are not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your pet is sick please refer to your veterinarian for a hands on examination. If your pet is exhibiting behavior problems please refer to a professional pet behaviorist.