Many dogs out there have storm phobia far worse than even my wife does. They might hyperventilate, pace, whine anxiously, or even get destructive. If that’s the case and a storm is coming, take a few steps to help ease your dog’s anxiety
And if you have a young dog who isn’t bothered by storms, not so fast – you’re not out of the woods yet! Storm phobia is often a phobia that is born later in a dog’s life – sometimes not showing up until they are 4 years of age or older. So you might want to pay attention too.
Here are 4 drug-free ways to ease your dog’s storm anxiety:
2) Leash-up – This might be my favorite thing to do with an anxious dog – put a leash on and give him guidance. It’s so simple and so effective. Often, pacing back and forth around the house raises your dog’s heart rate and adds fuel to the anxiety fire. If your dog is leashed and in a down stay, you force them to relax by focusing on another task and physically calming them down (stopping the pacing). If your dog likes to train, you might even work on your basic obedience during the storm.
3) Check your own energy – If you’re nervous, they’re nervous. If storms bother you, then maybe pass the dog off to your spouse or friend who isn’t afraid of thunder crashing. If not, fake it until you make it. Make a mental note to smile or cheer every time you hear thunder. Sooner or later your dog will think that thunder is something that makes you bizarrely happy. If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.
4) Explore different products – Thundershirt has built a whole empire on the promise that their products can ease your dog’s storm based anxiety. Their products are based on the idea of compression – wrapping your dog up tight to slow breathing and provide comfort. For all of you parents out there, you will know the magic of this if you have swaddled your angry baby before. Compression can be calming. Thundershirt is something I have seen mixed results with, but you can always do it the low-budget way and wrap a towel, ace bandage, or t-shirt around your dog’s chest to have a similar effect. On top of Thundershirt, there are numerous other products out there that can ease dog’s anxiety – like Dog Appeasing Pheromone, or even lavender. Try them all and see what works with your dog. Maybe each one helps a little bit or one helps a lot. There’s no rule that you can only use one.
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