My dog freaks out during a storm. What can I do?
Thunderstorm anxiety is terrifying for a dog, and is heartbreaking for an owner to watch. Although dogs can be afraid of fireworks, construction sounds, and even loud traffic, thunderstorms in Texas are intense and the scariest noise of all. Up to 30% of dogs are terrified by the rumblings of thunderstorms, howling winds, and driving rain.
When thunder rumbles, dogs don’t understand where the noise comes from. They tremble, hide, pace and pant. And, in extreme cases, dogs can claw through drywall, chew the carpet, and make frantic efforts to escape. It’s a terrible experience watching your pet cower in fear.
Storm season has arrived in North Texas, and the most intense months for severe weather are just around the corner. If your dog has Thunderstorm anxiety, follow these tips to help ease his fear.
5 Tips to Calm your Dog During a Storm
- Give your dog a safe place to go during a storm. When dogs are afraid, they go where they feel the most safe – a kennel, the closet, under the covers in the bed.
- Be cool during a storm. Consoling your dog when he’s scared can reinforce his fearful behavior. Be present. Don’t fuss too much. Distract him from the noise by giving your dog attention in the form of something he likes – throwing a ball, brushing his hair, sharing popcorn.
- Try a Thundershirt – This snug shirt wraps around your dog and applies gentle, constant pressure, similar to swaddling a baby. It can sooth some dogs into a calmer state.
- Supplement the scary sounds with music, TV, or white noise. Some certified veterinary behaviorists say classical music works magic on scared pets.
- Most importantly, ask your vet for help. At The PARC we have a lot of pet patients who freak out during storms. We have had amazing success with anti-anxiety medications that are highly effective and safe, including a new medication that calms dogs who suffer specifically from noise aversion. Our clients tell us we’ve helped end their sleepless nights consoling scared pets.