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5 Ways to Relax Your Dog During a Thunderstorm

5 Ways to Relax Your Dog During a Thunderstorm

Oh, no! Lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, and your dog is cowering in fear. It’s no surprise that dogs can be scared of thunderstorms — after all, when you don’t understand the concept of weather, those random booms coming from the sky can be pretty nerve-racking.  Many dogs experience fear and anxiety during thunderstorms, leaving you feeling hopeless until the storm passes. While it can be difficult to watch your dog in distress, anticipating thunderstorms and addressing their anxiety head-on can make it much easier to relax your dog during a thunderstorm.

Here are 5 ways to relax your dog during a thunderstorm: 

1. Create a “storm shelter” 

You can help your pup feel safer and more secure by creating a cozy retreat where they can hunker down and wait out the storm. This could be a covered crate, a designated corner of a room with plenty of pillows, or even a specially-made dog tent. Throw in their favorite toys to make the space more familiar and comforting, then play relaxing music or white noise or switch on DOGTV to drown out the thunder. 

Did you know lightning can trigger your dog, too? So don’t forget to draw the curtains or blinds to minimize lightning flashes. If your dog seems less anxious hiding under the bed, that’s okay, too! The key is to make your dog feel at ease during even the most intense thunderstorms. 

2. Use calming aids

Relax your dog’s nerves by giving them extra comfort during thunderstorms. 

You can use natural calming aids such as lavender, chamomile, or valerian root. Or use synthetic options such as calming pheromones or CBD oil

If your dog experiences severe thunderstorm anxiety, it’s best to seek advice from a professional dog trainer or veterinarian before giving your dog any kind of supplement or medication. They can help you create a comprehensive plan to manage your dog’s anxiety and calm them during future storms. 

With the right calming aids, you can help your furry friend come out the other side feeling relaxed. 

3. Keep your dog distracted

When thunder strikes, it’s essential to divert your dog’s attention away from the loud noises. You can offer them a chew toy or puzzle toy filled with their favorite treats to keep them occupied and entertained. Encouraging your scared dog to remain active during thunderstorms can also help reduce their anxiety. Try playing with them, exercising, or training them to keep their minds off the storm.

4. Comfort your dog

Yelling at dogs during a thunderstorm can worsen their anxiety and may even reinforce their behaviors when they hear thunder, such as whining or barking. 

Instead, let them know that everything’s gonna be A-OK. Just ensure you don’t over-coddle them, as they might mistake it as a reward for their fearful behavior. Alternatively, you can use garments specifically designed to apply gentle pressure to your dog’s body, similar to the hug sensation. For example, anxiety wraps, calming coats, or ThunderShirt. 

Finally, be mindful of your own behavior, as dogs can often pick up on our anxiety and stress. Staying relaxed yourself can go a long way in helping your dog feel less scared and more at ease. 

5. Desensitize your dog

Desensitization training is an excellent way for dogs to overcome their thunder phobia (and even their fear of fireworks!)

It involves gradually exposing your dog to what they fear in a safe and controlled way, so they can get used to it over time, Meaning your dog won’t be as scared or anxious when thunderstorms actually happen. How do you do this? 

First, play the sounds of storms at a low volume while engaging in enjoyable activities with your dog. Then, gradually increase the volume over several sessions. Don’t expect immediate results. It takes time, patience, and consistency, but desensitization is a super effective technique in increasing your dog’s tolerance to thunderstorms. 

Your dog doesn’t have to weather the storm and deal with their fear of thunder alone. The next time the thunder rolls in and your dog shows signs of thunderstorm anxiety, you can use these methods to support your pooch, ease their worries, and ride out the storm together. 

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