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How To Help a Dog With a Thunderstorm Phobia

It’s that time of year when we’re hearing the calming sounds of the rain and the unpredictable thunderstorms that typically come in late spring, early summer. For many people, these thunderstorms can cause anxiety, especially in children, and when it comes to our pets, loud noises like thunder can cause a lot of anxiety for them.

According to the Human Society of the United States, this fear and anxiety of thunderstorms and other loud noises is not always the result of a traumatic event and can happen for any dog. Many times we’re able to slowly and gently help our dogs get used to the sound and exhibit less fear — it just may take a little work first.

Here are 8 tips on how you can help ease your dogs’ fears and anxieties when the thunderstorm hits:

  • How To Help a Dog With a Thunderstorm Phobia 1 of 9
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    It's not easy for your dog and can be hard on you too, but there are ways to help your dog get over their anxiety.

  • Create a Safe Place 2 of 9
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    If you notice your dog always runs to the closet upon the first thunder, make that space accessible and comfortable for them. Allow them to go to that space when they're afraid and it will help their fears.

  • Use Distraction 3 of 9
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    Try to distract your dog with something else while the storm is going on. Start the distraction with the first noise and see if you can get him doing something else that he typically finds fun or relaxing. 

  • Talk to Your Vet 4 of 9
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    Talk to your veterinarian about the anxiety your dog has. There are some medications that can bring temporary relief, but never use over-the-counter methods before talking to your vet. 

  • Reward Calm Behavior 5 of 9
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    Reward your dog's calm behavior, year round which is better than rewarding anxious behavior. Give them a "good job" or treat each time they stay calm throughout the year and your dog may use that to chance his anxiety patterns. 

  • Use a Snug Garment 6 of 9
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    Some dogs like the snug feel of a tight shirt when they're feeling anxious. It helps them feel like a calming hug without holding them down.

    You can try the Thundersthirt available on their website, $39.95

  • Expose Them in Off-Season 7 of 9
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    You can use a tape of a thunderstorm to help modify your dog's behavior year round. In the off-seasons, play the tape, on very low volume allowing your dog to get used to the sound and see that he'll still be safe. You can gradually increase the volume as he adjusts. 

  • Don’t Put Them in a Crate 8 of 9
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    Avoid putting your dog in a crate when they're exhibiting fears of the storm while it's happening. That confinement can increase their anxiety and re-affirm their fears. It's better to allow them to go to where they feel safest. 

  • Don’t Punish For Being Afraid 9 of 9
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    Fear is normal and should not be punished. While it's likely that your dog's anxiety is annoying, The Humane Society of the United States will make your dog more afraid and may cause your dog to associate that along with the storms.

Photo credits: photostock

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