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5 Tips to Calm your Storm Stressed Dog

a tan dog tucked up by a pillow in a dark room.

It’s that time of year! April showers bring May flowers, which means we can expect thunderstorm season to begin again as well. The only problem is that we don’t always know when there is going to be a rainstorm, thunderstorm, tornado, or hurricane and neither do our pets. 

Since the weather is not always reliable, it can be hard to prepare and help your dog with their storm phobia and can be just as stressful for the owners as well. 

This article will provide you with 5 tips to help you calm your dog during the coming storm season.

What are the symptoms of Storm Phobia? 

The technical name for this is called Astraphobia. This is when your dog has a fear of and/or gets an anxiety thunderstorm occurs. Veterinarians believe that there are some triggers like thunder, lightning, wind, barometric pressure changes, and even low-frequency rumbles before a storm that humans can’t hear, that cause distress.

Often, they will show signs of nervousness, such as pacing around the house, panting, and chewing or drooling more than usual.

They can also exhibit behavioral signs as well. These include: hiding, trembling, vocalizing and owner seeking. Some will even go as far as to try and escape or cause destruction, which can be even more upsetting to their owners.

Some pet parents have experienced their dogs attempting to break through screen doors and even windows to run away.

This is serious and can be dangerous, so if you think your dog has it follow these steps to help them through the next storm.

Keep your pet home and locked inside

a tan and white dog laying on a couch with their owner.

Some pets try to escape by clawing through the screen door or break through a window to run away. In these circumstances, pets can potentially seriously injure themselves. So if there is a storm or you know one is coming, try to be home with your dog. 

If you can’t, then ask a friend who the dog knows to be home with them. This will help calm them down knowing they won’t be alone, it will also help you keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t being destructive or trying to escape.  

Play Music or Noise in the Background

One reason dogs tend to get so frightened is that dogs have much better hearing than humans and are therefore more sensitive to loud noises like thunder or lightning.

Another way to help is to first try closing all windows and doors to muffle the noise. Then try to compete with the noise going on outside. Play a calming CD, use a white noise machine, or sit down where they are and watch T.V. Even holding your dog in your lap and watching a youtube video on your phone may help distract them from the loud noises going on outside. 

Create a Calming Environment

A strong way to help your dog stay calm during a storm is to be there for them and show them you care. A common myth is that you would reward anxious behavior by comforting them.

An anxious dog has a hard time learning due to being overstimulated and extremely emotional, comforting your dog is a way to destress them, it will not reward any poor behavior caused by fear.

Most dogs that do suffer from a fear of storms often suffer from other forms of anxiety, such as separation anxiety, social anxiety, and canine noise aversion. (fear of loud noises like fireworks, celebrations, vacuum cleaners, and smoke detectors) so pay close attention to other things that may make them on edge or show symptoms of distress.

Other ways to calm your dog are to create a safe space for them. It could either be in a closet, a room with no windows, or in their crate. If they have a crate be sure to leave it available during a storm - but always leave the door open. This is very important. If you lock your dog in their crate and they start getting anxious, this could lead to them trying to bite or claw their way out which could break their teeth or claws in return.

Try putting a heavy blanket or sound-deadening cover over the crate to help muffle any noise.

There are some products that can be used to help calm an anxious dog during storms or any other type of situation that might create anxiety for your dog.

Many pet parents can find CBD products for their pets to suppress an over-stimulated dog. CBD can be found in a variety of forms. There is the liquid that can be put on food or given directly, or there are threats that can be given.

If you choose to have your dog by your side or in a crate, whatever their safe place may be, anti-anxiety blankets can be a good option as well.

Tip: If they don’t really have a safe space, find a place in your house away from windows and doors that lead to outside. Then put their favorite toys, their bed, treats, and blankets in the space to help get them acclimated. I will take a few weeks to get them familiar with that space, so try to plan a few weeks ahead of any major storm or storm season.

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Distract Them

A good way to distract your dog from the loud storm noises is to play with them. Find their favorite toys and/or play your favorite game of hiding and seek to help take their mind off the storm that is happening around them. 

If you have another pet that doesn't have storm phobia, be sure to include them in the playtime.

Train your Dog to Adapt to the Storm

Another good option is to train your dog to adapt to a storm. Playing thunder noises over time will help desensitize your dog to the sounds of a storm. To do this, play a soundtrack of a thunderstorm (or a siren/ or other loud noise if your dog has noise aversion) on a low volume so as to not upset your dog. 

If they stay calm and settled, give them their favorite treat or chew as a reward. This will help associate them with a positive reward for the negativeness they associate with the storm sounds. Over the next few weeks (using 5-10 minute sessions), gradually increase the sound of the storm noises and continue to reward them for good behavior. 

Keep in mind, if the root of the problem lies elsewhere like with the barometric pressure or another anxiety, then consult your vet for additional therapies. 

Storms can be unpredictable, even when newscasters get it right and they arrive when expected, but unfortunately, the intensity of the storm is never understood until we are experiencing it. We may know that storms are usually scarier than they are harmful, but our poor pets do not. 

Next time a storm is set to come around, we hope that you will find these tips helpful when you prepare your dog.

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Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

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