Is your dog afraid of thunder? It is common for dogs to be afraid of thunder simply because they do not understand what it is or where it is coming from. Many dogs will either show signs like barking, hiding, whining, scratching, panting, or just complete panic. They will hear this loud noise and perceive it as something threatening. No worries though. Here is how you can learn the best ways to keep your dog calm.
Create a safe space:
If your dog is already crate trained, make him or her comfortable in their crate with their favorite toys and blankets as well as food and water while the storm passes. If your dog is not crate trained, even a bathroom or bedroom will work. Providing your dog with their own "den" during the loud storm will help ease their stress and keep them safely contained.
Reward calm and brave behaviors
Throughout the year you should continue rewarding your dog with praise and treats when they exhibit calm behavior as well as when they are being brave. Many owners may try to console a fearful dog in a way to help them, but forget to reward them for just being a good calm dog or facing their fears on their own terms. Obviously it’s not easy to "make a storm" unless you play a thunderstorm soundtrack, but when a storm does come try leashing your dog and use commands like "lie down" and "stay" while giving them treats. Rewarding this confident behavior or even playing with their favorite toys during the loud noises will make them forget the storm as a fear and associate it with something positive. As a part of positive/reward based dog training, you should always remember to reward and encourage the desired behavior when your dog displays it vs reacting only to the negative.
In addition to playing with your dog or using their favorite treats as a distraction, try playing calming music, turning the TV on or even using a sound machine to help drown out some of the loud thunder claps.
Each dog is different, and it is important to find the right calming product for him or her. Thundershirts for dogs with anxiety are a wonderful drug free solution that apply a gentle, constant pressure on your dog’s torso. The pressure will help relieve anxiety and almost feel like a constant hug. After consulting with your veterinarian, you can try products like CBD oils or prescribed medications that are proven to be beneficial to reduce their fears and calm them down during the storm. Thunderstorms can be scary for anyone especially for your pups. Keeping calm and practicing positive reinforcement with your dog will help ease his or her anxiety over time.