Does your dog have a fear of storms? Do you find yourself stressed out by storms because you know how your dog is going to react? Many dogs suffer from a fear of storms and that can present itself in multiple ways including pacing, barking, whining, or even becoming destructive. So, how do you deal with this? How do you calm your dog during a storm and ease fears to help them relax, even when the wind and thunder are loud enough to shake your home?
If we are being honest, you can open up your computer and find countless how-tos, tips, tricks, pills, and magic potions that will help your pup weather the storm, but the truth is, what it takes to calm your dog during a storm may be more simple than you realize. It’s just a matter of taking the time to help them.
Dylan is fear aggressive and scared of storms. So, if he hears thunder he tends to want to run outside and “chase” the noise. He once crashed through a screened door trying to chase off some thunder. He also redirects, so if Rainey is too close to him, he may lash out at her. So, I know the stress and how important it is to keep your dog calm during a storm.
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10 Tips That Will Help Calm Your Dog During a Storm
Bring Them Inside
Being outside in a storm is scary, loud, and miserable. That’s true for people or dogs. Once you know that a storm is heading your way, be sure to bring your dog in and keep them inside during the storm. This will help them feel more secure. Plus, being indoors tends to mute the sounds from the storm a bit, which helps calm dogs.
Also remember to close the blinds/curtains so that it hides any lightning. If you have black-out curtains, that would is even better.
Keep Them in Their Own Space
If your dog has a special place in your home, be sure that they can be there during a storm. Dogs are very similar to humans in that they love familiarity, it comforts them. Be sure that their special place is available for their comfort.
Another great way to calm your dog is to find the most soundproof room in your house and place their crate or bed there for them to ride out the storm. Dylan doesn’t need to be crated but he loves it, so I never put it away. I keep it open and when he gets scared he will go inside. It’s his “den” and it helps to make him feel more secure.
Be Home With Them
If your dog already fears thunderstorms, leaving them to deal with that fear all alone can only worsen the situation. If you can’t be there with them, try to arrange for someone to be there. Leaving a dog alone during a storm is not only a scary thing for them, but you may just find yourself coming home to damage done by the dog while they were afraid.
Create a Calm Environment
When a dog is feeling fearful and anxious, it is important that they not have a lot of other stimulating things happening in their environment. Make sure that there is no unnecessary noise (no loud music, yelling, etc). Next, if you can, sit down and give your dog comfort. Massage her, snuggle with her. Fear isn’t a negative behavior. You won’t be “rewarding negative behavior” by trying to calm your dog with a comforting touch.
Try distracting your dog with their favorite toy or treat to see if that helps to get their mind off of the storm happening outside. You could even play a game of fetch or other indoor activity that they enjoy.
Try White Noise
While it is important to not add other stimulating sounds, a little “white noise” might help to calm your dog during a storm. Some calm sounds like music or a movie in the background might help to counteract the scary storm sounds that are happening outside. Just having the TV on with the volume a little higher than normal can help.
Use a Thunder Jacket
Many dog owners swear by the use of a Thundershirt. These are dog shirts that apply a constant, yet gentle pressure. Kind of like a hug. This is to help calm anxieties and fear.
Dylan has a Thundershirt it seems to only work if we get it on him prior to the storm starting. Once he’s all riled up, it doesn’t always help. You can buy one online or there are tutorials online to make your own wraps. A weighted blanket could potentially work as well.
There are many natural products marketed for calming dogs during these stressful times. Dog pheromones, lavender oil, Bach flower extracts, and CBD oils have been used by dog owners for easing anxieties related to storm fears.
We diffuse some calming essential oils and give Bach Rescue Remedy (we use the original but there is a pet-friendly version too). Dylan actually comes running over when we say, “Do you want your medicine?” during storms. For bad storms, we will also give him some CBD oil.
Preparation and Practice
We all deal with storms in some fashion or another so it makes sense for us all to be prepared. If you have a dog that is prone to anxiety and storm fears, you can prepare by having practice “storms.” Find storm sounds on your streaming device and listen to them with your pet. During the storm noises, offer your dog treats, praise, and positive attention. Continue this over the next couple of weeks, increasing the volume of the sounds each time. This desensitization will help to relieve or potentially alleviate your dog’s storm fears.
Head to the Vet
If you have tried all of the above tips and you still aren’t seeing any changes in your dog’s storm fears, it may be time to take them to the veterinarian. Your vet may be able to offer a different alternative, or medication, if necessary.
Storms can wreak havoc with our dogs, but don’t lose hope! Do you use any tips not mentioned here to calm your dog during a storm?