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, hide in the closet, or jam themselves behind the toilet. Most of the time they don’t grow out of it on their own, and many will get worse with time if nothing is done.
Some dogs with storm phobia are also frightened of other loud noises, such as fireworks.
Here are 5 steps to help guide your dog to stay calm during storms…
1. Reward calm behaviour
Practice getting your dog to settle on command. For example, you could try putting a special “inside” leash on the dog and practice having your dog lie at your feet while praising the calm behaviour. Practice this routine when there is no storm so the dog learns the process. Then when the storms come your dog will know exactly what to do when you command them.
2. Safe place
Try placing your dog somewhere quieter during storms like in a basement, an interior room with music playing, or a bathroom. This way your dog can’t hear or see what’s happening outside. You can also allow your dog to find his own spot within the areas he is allowed, so that he is comfortable during storms.
3. Try not to reward bad/scared behaviour
Many owners make the mistake of putting their pet/s in a particular place during storms. Then they reward the dog for being clingy and whimpering but patting them and gently talking to them. Even though they are sacred and you are worried about them it’s important that you try not to give them the wrong message. You don’t want to reward the dog for whimpering because that will only increase the clingy, scared behaviour. Instead, practice getting your dog to settle on command. (Refer to step 1).
4. Distract your dog
During a storm it is a good idea to try and distract your dog by offering them their favourite toy, playing fetch, feeding treats, etc. Just remember only do this if your dog is behaving in a calm manner and following your commands. What you’re trying to do is get them to forget about the storm and replace the fear with something positive.
5. Ask your veterinarian or Aussie Pooch Mobile dog groomer for advice
If your dog still isn’t feeling the best during storms, you could ask your veterinarian for more ideas to help with behavioural modification. This might include ‘weather medication’ to help with your dogs nervous behavioural problems. Not every dog needs anti-anxiety medication, but dogs that are in a horrible state of high anxiety will really benefit.
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