After the torrential thunderstorms we’ve been having the past few days, we wanted to spend today’s “Dog Days of Summer” post to discuss Thunderstorm Safety.
About the Dog Days of Summer Series. The dog days of the South Florida summer are hard on us all… but especially our dogs! We’ve already discussed with you how to Beat the Heat and passed along some tips for a safe barbeque with your dog, but as South Florida residents, we have some additional concerns to address. Among these include: mosquitoes, frequent thunderstorms, and water sport hazards. We will discuss each of these topics throughout the rest of this week.
Is your dog scared of storms? Your pet is not alone. It is not uncommon for dogs to be terrified of loud noises (like we mentioned around Independence Day). Sadly, shelters see an increase in stray animals after big storms.
Correcting phobias can take some time, so it is important to start training your dog immediately and to progress quickly. All you need are a few simple, calming supplies, including: Thundershirts, a bed or blanket your dog likes to cuddle in, a well-stuffed chew toy, soothing music, and herbal remedies.
Note: We must reiterate that is important to begin this training BEFORE a thunderstorm occurs. Why? Your dog is a sensitive being and will instantly pick up on this blatant pandering (as described below). This dramatic change in behavior could scare your dog even more. In essence, you want to cement this behavior early so that, during the storm, you can act like nothing’s wrong.
(By the way, it should go without saying that you absolutely should never punish or yell at your dog for being clingy or somewhat “obsessive” during a storm.)
How to (Before the Storm):
- Place your dog’s bed where it is near to you but away from the windows or doors. Regularly have your dog settle in his or her bed, rewarding for calm, settled behavior.
- Have your dog settle on their bed at different times of the day to help train calm behavior so they don’t just associate one part of the day with being calm.
How to (During the Storm):
Wrap your dog in a Thundershirt. When worn on your pet, it applies gentle, constant pressure to help calm the pet during stormy weather. Thundershirts are reported to help approximately 80% of the dogs that try it. Thankfully for those 20%, there is a money-back guarantee. Interested in buying a Thundershirt? We sell them at our Pet Boutique!
Remain calm and happy, feeding your dog with tasty treats, like dried liver or another of his/her favorite treats, each time the noise occurs. Your dog will eventually associate the noise with positive outcomes. If your dog refuses the food, continue to offer it with a cheerful voice.
If your dog has a severe phobia, consult your vet and use a sound desensitation CD, starting it at a very low volume. Feed your dog by hand, progressing to the next volume only when they are calm with the current level.
If you have to leave your dog alone, increase the volume of the desensitation CD to help cover the noise of the storm, close any curtains, and stuff plenty of food in the chew toy.
Melatonin, an over-the-counter hormone, has been shown to calm some pups. They remain alert, not sleepy, but thunder just doesn’t bother them any more. Melatonin varies by manufacturer, so you’ll want to talk to your vet about what brand and dosage to give. Other holistic remedies are available.
Follow all these tips and you’ll have a happy, dry, and safe pup.