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How to Prepare My Dog for Thunderstorms and Loud Noises?

How to Prepare My Dog for Thunderstorms and Loud Noises?

Pet parents will do anything to keep their fur babies stress-free but can be helpless if the reason for stress is nature! It can be extremely heartbreaking to see your dog getting stressed out during thunderstorms. Not only thunder, but loud noises like firecrackers can be a traumatic experience for dogs.

Thunderstorm phobia is real and not uncommon in dogs. Dogs are much more sensitive to sounds than humans. Sometimes, they are known to detect thunder before we hear it. Their fear is the same as ours “fight or flight”. 

Symptoms include excessive panting, whining, licking, pacing back and forth, shaking, barking.  Every dog is different, some can get very destructive during stress. 

I am reminded of when I managed a pet store after college. It was during a rainy, thunderous evening that a friend came by with her newly adopted dog and asked if we could go to dinner.  At the time the dog was very good natured and calm, so we decided to leave him in the store while we dined a few doors down.  When we returned after dinner, her dog had ripped open bags upon bags of dog food, unstuffed all the beds, had several accidents and was cowering in a corner.  We never considered how the thunderstorm would affect her poor pup being left alone in a strange environment.  It took some time to calm him down and was a huge lesson on how unpredictable a dog can be when in fear.

Desensitize

If you get your dog as a young pup you can train your dog to be desensitized to loud noise.  People have play sounds of thunder or fireworks starting on a low volume and then increase gradually,  all while rewarding them with several toys and treats. You can try this with older dogs or rescued/adopted dogs but the results vary.

Safe place

If your dog is terrified by noise, you can create some safe places.  Many dogs look at their crates as a safe sure “den like” place.  Others prefer to hunker down under the covers. Some dogs hide in closets.  Do not yell, or punish your dog, they are truly riding off adrenalyn and instinct.  It is our job to comfort them and seek alternatives to help with this behavior.

Create Barriers

Basically, shut out the world. Close the curtains and play classical, calming music to help muffle out the sounds. Make sure your dog cannot escape your home as many dogs will run away out of fear.  DO NOT take your dog outside unless in a fenced in yard or under the control of a leash. 

Distraction

channel your dog's energy in alternative directions. For some dogs this means keeping a stash of special bones, chew toys, treats that are only used during times of stress.  If your dog is motivated by food, invest in some puzzle toys with food as the reward.   Keeping their mind busy by making them sniff and find treats is a great way to distract from the noise around them.

Patience and understanding

Be soothing and kind.  Remember, dogs have a keen sense of smell and if you are upset they will pick up on this.  The more stressed out you get, can lead to elevating your dog’s stress.  Some behaviorists say to not overly indulge your dog in petting and rewards as it could show that you are rewarding  them for their behavior.  I am not sure if I can agree with this, as my own experience has shown positive results from holding my dogs and speaking calmly to them.  Touch for my dogs was very important in the calming process.

 

K9 Comfort Spray’s  Earmuffs diffuser oil  and our newest Earmuffs Surface Mist are proven to help calm and relax dogs during times of high anxiety.  Whether you diffuse the scent into the air, put on a bandana, bedding, or favorite toy, when your dog inhales the scents in this blend, we like to think they feel like they are in a room full of your comforting hugs.   Thousands of dogs and pet parents rely on Earmuffs to bring comfort to their dogs.

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