Thunderstorms can be a source of stress for your pup, but they don’t have to be. Follow these four steps to bring relief to frightened canine.
Watch your own behavior during a thunderstorm
If you remember nothing else, remember this: Constant petting or consoling is often interpreted by pets as a reward for the fearful response — or reinforcement that the fearful response is warranted. Conversely, punishment will only increase a panicked pet’s anxiety level. The solution? Projecting a calm, cool vibe and giving your dog attention in the form of playing, grooming, or other activities he normally enjoys.
Switch environments when it starts to thunder
Changing your pet’s location can be surprisingly effective, because it may help reduce the storm’s volume level or make your pet less aware of it.
Allowing your pet access to the basement, or a room without windows, may have a similar effect. Some pups find that a closet or the area under the bed feels especially safe and secure. If your pet heads for his crate, try covering it with a blanket to increase feelings of security. However, keep the crate door open so your pet won’t feel confined (which can dramatically increase anxiety).
Increase exercise before a thunderstorm starts
When thunderstorms are predicted, try to take your dog for a few extra walks before the clouds roll in. This helps to tire him both mentally and physically. Many vets claim that it can also boost natural serotonin levels, which then act as a natural calming aid.
Use counter conditioning during a thunderstorm