Is Your Pup (or Cat) Afraid of Thunderstorm?

Any dog owner has likely encountered their pup being highly spooked by a thunderstorm. The flashing lightning, the boom of the thunder, the house shaking…dogs are highly sensitive to all this unexpected noise and movement, which can wear highly on their nerves. And across the country, spring and late summer are often very rainy seasons, so these storms are far more frequent. How many pups out there have either howled out the window at a stormy sky or spent the whole time shivering under the nearest bed? But fear not. There are numerous ways you can help your dog manage thunderstorms in a healthier manner.

First off, certainly make sure your pet is indoors during the storm. Not only does it remove the risk of bad weather exposure, but severe storms can knock down fences, letting your dog run away in fright.

You can also create a safe haven for your pet to retreat to during storms, such as a kennel with a bed padding the bottom. You don’t have to lock them in there, just let them choose whether or not to take advantage of a warm, enclosed space.

Try to avoid cuddling and comforting your pet during a storm. This can train them to come to you every time they are scared–and what happens if they’re home alone when a storm strikes? Plus, they might take your soothing efforts as praise for being scared and become even more prone to it.

However, don’t ignore your dogs frightened reaction, as it could worsen over time without treatment. One technique involves teaching the dog to wear a leash indoors while being commanded to lie still and be calm. Do this routine when no storms are present and praise them or provide treats for their calm behavior. Once they’re used to it, you can implement it the next time a storm hits, increasing the likelihood that they’ll react positively to the established routine–and can then be praised and rewarded for exhibiting calm behavior during loud disturbances.

Has your dog ever been severely frightened by a thunderstorm? How have you learned to help them cope in a healthy manner?

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