Keeping Your Dog Calm During thunder storms can be more stressful for you than your than your dog. It takes time (and several storms) to figure out what works the best. Being born during one of the worse thunder storm and a F4 tornado, has made me kind of an expert on the matter. Thunder no matter how far away sends fear through my veins.
I have my own theory of survival when it comes to thunder storms. One clap of thunder or one flash of lightening, I am movin’ full speed ahead to find a lap to sit my behind down in and a chest to flatten out against, so I can hear a heartbeat. On that horrific day in 2012 my Momma Doggie told my sisters and me, that if we could hear and/or feel a heart beat, we would always be safe and secure. Oh, and just so you will know, a wind-up alarm clock under a blanket does not count as a heart beat.
This time last year I was just getting a grip on what would make Mom and Dad jump through hoops, and I must admit, I did a paw-raising-hi-five-bang-up-job of it (and yes, they are still jumping.)
My paw de resistance was my ability to show fur-twitching, skin-trembling and whimpering fear when it came to thunder storms. However, being held close by Mom or Dad pretty much took care of that fear.
Then it happen during an overnight thunder storm – while I was in a very peacefull and sound puppy sleep (you know the kind, when you can drop an set of stainless steel food bowls on slate tile and not wake us up) Mom decided to shake me awake up to see if I was scared. She scared me so bad I immediately started with my paw de resistance behaviors mentioned above, not even realizing there was a thunder storm going on. The rest is as they say, history (or payback – depending on who you ask around here.)
I’m going to guess that watching a dog who is fearful during thunderstorms or with the sounds of fireworks is not fun for you or the dog. I have it on good authority that a lot of dogs suffer from this problem. My Mom had a dog that would chew through wooden doors when it was storming or there were fireworks (nice to know, that kind of leaves my level of possible destruction up for grabs). Noise phobias are not uncommon in us, since our hearing is so sensitive.
Mom also says that when I get a whole lot older, I will lose a lot of my hearing, like every other mature adult male. Hum, it seems that has already happen to Dad. Some times when Mom talks to him he totally ignores her. When she nails him on it he says “you’re mumbling, I can’t hear you.” Let me tell you, them-there are fightin’ words. Her head spins around with a look I wouldn’t want to meet on the street. Then when I look over at him for the next volley, he starts to show signs of hair-twitching, skin-trembling and a definite look of fear. Ah, never a dull moment around here. Okay, back to keeping your dog calm during thunder storms.
I decided to share a few of the calming methods we use during my first two years, in hopes one of them will help your dog.
Thunder Jacket – a wrap that wraps around your dog’s body and is really snug when fasten. I love my Thunder Jacket and get excited whenever the drawer is opened where I keep it. The fun thing is that when that drawer is opened by mistake, I get to wear my jacket for a little bit, even when the sun is out and the sky is blue. The Thunder Jacket wraps around my body and fits really snug. Mom says it is like swaddling a new born baby when it cries. It also reduces the amount of static electricity that collects in my fur. Many people theorize that the static electricity bothers some dogs and makes them even more fearful of storms.
Creating a safe place for your dog also helps. Some dogs can make it through storms and fireworks noise if they have a place where they feel protected and they can hide. This safe place can be their crate, your bathtub, the center of your bed (my personal favorite), or any place where your dog will feel safe and secure. Mom’s dog that chewed through wooden doors (bad dog!) was a Border Collie. Sometimes he would run through the house and race upstairs and into a bedroom and then pull as much of his body under the bed that would fit. Mom said when they would check on him, his tail would always be wagging a mile a minute, even though his hind quarters were not under the bed. If it is a dark, quiet place, it may make your dog think it’s in a den, burrow or cave. They even have dog/pet-cave beds now.
Rescue Remedy is a popular herbal treatment for noise phobia, road trips and fear of storms and fireworks. It is a Bach Flowers® flower essence that you can buy at a health food store, pet store or online. Some people also recommend a D.A.P. diffuser which is a pheromone dispensing diffuser sometimes used in kennels and animal shelters to soothe dogs.
If your dog’s fear is severe you should seek the help of a behavior specialist that has experience working with dogs that suffer from noise phobias. You can also talk to your veterinarian. In some cases your vet may give you a sedative for your dog to get through the storm. You should always talk to your vet before giving your dog any kind of medication.
If you have a way of keeping your dog calm during thunder storms, please share it with me in the comment section below this post. My readers would love to read about it.