Is Your Dog Prepared For Thunderstorms?

As youride through the unforgiving monsoon weather, you may notice that you begin to see more thunderstorms. Heavy rains and storms can lead to some pretty scared and anxious dogs. Have you ever wondered why your dog is afraid of thunderstorms? Most of us think that it’s the loud booms and flashes of lightening but that might not be all of it.

Some studies have shown that it is actually the uncomfortable feeling of static electricity, especially the feeling of it tingling through the dog’s fur that makes them feel uncomfortable. This can prompt them to run around the house whimpering and looking for places to hide.  As dogs experience numerous shocks from static electricity during thunderstorms, they tend to run toward the rooms and places in your house that are grounded.

The number one grounded place dogs hide when a storm hits is the bathtub. Your bathtub is actually an excellent place for your dog to remain before, during, and even after a storm passes—as it can take a while for your dog to stop feeling the effect of the storm, even after the rain, thunder, and lightning have passed. The porcelain of the bathtub effectively blocks electricity from traveling, and this is likely why dogs often jump in the tub when they feel a storm approaching.

So what can you do to prevent the rising anxiety and fear in your dog when a storm approaches? There are a couple of things you can try.

Create a safe place – Try creating an environment where your dog can go when they are scared.  But remember, this must be a safe location from their perspective, not yours. Notice where they go (or try to go) when frightened. If possible, give them access to that place. If they are trying to get inside the house, consider installing a dog door. If they are trying to get under your bed, give them access to your bedroom. Just be attentive and try to help them feel less scared.

Distractions – Try getting your dog to not focus on the storm and to focus on other things. I realize this is probably easier said than done. Maybe pull out their favorite toy when a storm is rolling in and see if they’ll play. You can also try treats. Give your dog their favorite treat or a special treat during a storm to see if that will take their mind off things. Both of these methods of distraction are meant to try and change your dog’s focus from being terrified of a storm to associating the scary thing with something positive. These may not always work but it is worth a try to see if you can calm your dog down.

Calming Chews – Pet calming treats and chews are available in both chewy and powdered forms. Both are a convenient treat form which might be easier to feed your dog and is only a matter of preference.

Turn off the TV or radio —The weather is loud enough for your poor puppy, so it’s best not to make the situation even more intense than it already is. Gentle music may be all right.

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