Managing Your Dog's Fear of Thunderstorms

Depending on where in the country you live, thunderstorms might be a regular occurrence. That doesn't mean they get any easier for a dog who is afraid! Fortunately, there are things you can do to help them feel more secure.

Dogs are a little like people when it comes to fear. Some aren't afraid of anything, while others cower at the slightest hint of an oncoming storm. However, you can’t explain to a dog that there is nothing to be afraid of. If your four-legged friend has a strong fear of thunderstorms, there are some ways you can help manage it.

Provide them with a safe place

If thunderstorms, fireworks, or other loud noises make your dog cower with fear, make sure you provide them with a safe place to stay even when it’s not storming. Create a quiet area where your dog can feel secure, so no stress-related destruction will occur. A crate with closed sides or a blanket draped over it can be an excellent way to provide a cozy-feeling, secure spot. When a storm is brewing, lead your dog to their special place to help them find refuge. They will seek this spot out for comfort whenever they begin to feel worried.

Don't punish accidents

Some dogs become so frightened during storms that they become incontinent. Try to be patient with your pup, and don't punish them for having accidents when they are afraid. You'll only make the issue worse, and your dog won't even understand why they're being punished.

Keep your dog indoors, if you can

Dogs can panic and escape your property if something scares them enough, potentially finding themselves in dangerous situations. Keep your dog indoors and away from any exterior doors to prevent them from panicking and putting themselves in harm's way. If your dog has to remain outdoors, make sure you secure them in a safe space and use blankets or tarps to cover their kennel and block out some of the light and noise of the storm.

Do not try to reassure your dog with a sympathetic voice—this will sound like praise and may accidentally reinforce their fears. Act calm and matter-of-factly during a storm.

Make sure your dog's ID is up-to-date

Keep current identification on your dog's collar in case they escape from your home or property during a storm. This will help whoever finds them to get them home safely to you. Ask your vet about having your pet microchipped. Just remember to keep your contact information current so that if someone finds your pup, they can indeed get them back to you.

Consider seeking training to help your dog be less afraid

Fear can be unlearned with the proper conditioning training. If done well, by a qualified trainer, your dog can be reconditioned to stay calm during loud thunderstorms. It's not a quick fix, but if they have been struggling, it could keep your pet calmer and happier.

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