Storms can be a terrifying experience for many dogs, regardless of their age or breed. Consider that many humans are afraid of major storms and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our dogs are too. Big, loud thunder, heavy rainfall, powerful winds… all of these are things that could easily frighten even the most stoic of canines. So how can we help our dogs feel more comfortable through a storm? There are a few different things we can try.
#1 – Provide A Secure Shelter
Dogs naturally enjoy having a shelter to call their own, such as a crate. Although many people find crating difficult, if taught correctly most dogs absolutely love going into their crates and may even do so on their own to hide from a stressful situation. A crate will allow your dog somewhere to feel safe and secure – a sheltering den from the heavy storm. Make sure the crate isn’t too big as your dog might not feel confined enough, but not so small that your dog feels cramped. Considering filling it with blankets, toys and any of your dog’s favorite items. Dogs instinctively want to hide when something frightening is happening, so offering your dog a crate is the perfect solution and can definitely help ease their anxiety.
#2 – Stay With Your Dog
Many owners have been warned not to comfort their dogs at the risk of reinforcing the dog’s fearful behavior. But a heavy storm is not the time to leave your dog alone and force him to buck up. In fact, since dogs are pack animals, they naturally want to be with their families during a scary event. Even if your dog is crated, make sure to stay in the room with him or her so you can offer physical and emotional support. Gentle massages, soothing talk and reassurance that everything is under control can help your dog feel much better about the situation.
#3 – Consider Natural Therapies
There are many anti-anxiety medications you can ask your veterinarian about if your dog has severe anxiety, but we recommend trying natural therapies first. For dogs that have a mild phobia, they seem to work quite well. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is used for many ailments, including insomnia. It’s a natural way to make your dog feel more tired and hopefully sleep through the storm or take the edge off their anxiety. Bach flower extracts and lavender oil are also natural calming alternatives that you might want to try. Make sure you ask your veterinarian for specific dosage advice and administration before giving your dog any natural supplements.
#4 – Try Professional Help
If your dog’s phobia is severe, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about getting prescription anti-anxiety medications to ride out storms. Although most owners find this option the least satisfying, it should still be considered if your dog is severely suffering and nothing else seems to work. You might also enlist the help of a professional dog trainer and/or behaviorist who can offer the best options for your particular dog’s phobia. All dogs react different to different methods of treatment, so you’ll want to try as many as you can.