3 Ways to Help Calm Dogs with Thunderstorm Anxiety

It can be heartbreaking to watch: Even before the first clap of thunder, otherwise well-behaved dogs begin to pace, pant, cling to their owners, or hide in the closet. In severe cases, they’ll claw through drywall, chew carpets, or break through windows in their escalating panic.

It is unknown why some dogs become afraid of noises such as thunder. The fear can soon become a phobia, which is defined as a persistent, excessive and irrational fear response. Thunderstorm phobia is real, not uncommon, and shouldn’t be ignored.

What to do? There’s no easy fix, and unless your dog is only mildly affected, it can be difficult to treat, but here are three ways to help reduce your dog’s distress during storm season.

1. Reward calm behavior year-round.

Many owners make the mistake of trying to console and pet a fearful pet that’s whimpering, meowing excessively or climbing on them, but this encourages the panicky behavior.

Instead, practice getting your dog to settle on command. Put a special “inside” leash on the dog and practice having the pet lie at your feet while praising the calm behavior.

Be sure to practice when there is no storm so that your dog learns the routine. When a storm arrives, then put on the leash and say, “Come and lie down here,” and your dog still knows what to do.

During the storm, you can also try distracting your dog by offering its favorite toy, playing fetch and feeding treats as long as he remains calm.

2. Give the dog a safe place where he can go in a storm.

Your dog’s safe place may be an open crate, the basement where the dog can’t hear or see what’s happening outside, an interior room with music playing, or a bathroom.

Let your dog decide: Notice where he goes during a storm, and if possible, allow access to it.

Be sure he can come and go freely, since some animals become more anxious if confined.

3. Try a pheromone calming product.

SENTRY GOOD Behavior calming products help calm dogs in fearful or stressful situations, such as pet/owner separation, loud noises and travel. They work by mimicking the pheromone that mother dogs produce to calm and reassure their young, and these pheromones are recognized throughout life. Pheromones are released in response to stress, alarm, and danger and have no side effects — proving to be a safe, efficient and convenient means of behavior management.

SENTRY Calming Collar for dogs are clinically proven to reduce or eliminate stress-related behavior such as inappropriate marking, and excessive barking and chewing. These collars help alleviate problem behaviors triggered by travel, thunderstorms, fireworks, being left alone and new social situations and release calming pheromones for up to 30 days.

What works to help calm your thunderstorm-anxious dog during big storms? Don’t forget to microchip your dog in case he gets out during a storm!

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