With the warmer weather rolling in, those Florida thunderstorms will soon follow, and if you’re a dog owner, this may bring a little anxiety, as your poor, little furry friends start to hide in fear of those rolling thunder claps. So, what can you do to help calm them?
Well, first you have to understand that this anxious behavior is actually very common in dogs. The flashing lights and big, booming sounds can be rather upsetting, especially as dogs are extra sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. You see, they can sense these storms moving in long before humans can, so they start to exhibit abnormal behaviors like running away in a panic or even chewing on things to get out all of that nervous energy.
In order to curb these habits and soothe our pets, we have to remember that calmness begins and ends with our own behaviors. So, here’s what you can do to help your dog stay calm the next time a storm rolls through:
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Our pets pick up on every human emotion or feeling that we put out. That’s why it is so important for you to stay calm, as an example to your pet. If they see that you aren’t afraid, they won’t be afraid. If they start to hover close to the ground in fear, don’t get on the floor and console them; this only teaches them that there is in fact something to fear, as you are reinforcing the behavior. Any fears, anxieties or actions that you exhibit will automatically be taken on by your four-legged friend, making them feel bad or act out. So, keep yourself in check, and remember, the storm will soon pass.
Provide a Safe Space
When pets feel threatened in any way, they want a safe, secure space to retreat to. So, make sure that your dog has a nice, enclosed area to ride out the storm in. Whether your dog is an indoor or outdoor pet, crates and kennels outfitted with toys and blankets are of great comfort during times of stress.
Dog-Proof Your Space
In the event of a stress-inducing thunderstorm, if you don’t use a crate or kennel, make sure that the space your dog will be sharing is not only calm and secure, but cleared of all objects that could become hazardous chew toys. As previously mentioned, dogs may start to chew on things that they wouldn’t normally touch as a means to relieve stress and anxiety. Be sure to keep them away from all doors and open windows, so that they can’t run and escape. It may also help to close your curtains, and turn a TV or radio on to better block out the sights and sounds of the storm.
Remember, the only way to prepare your dog to accept thunderstorms as normal is to condition them. Don’t make a big deal when they come rolling in. If you act normal, they will act normal. But, it will take time. Even if your dog has an accident out of fear or anxiety of what’s happening, don’t make a lot of fuss over it, and don’t punish them. After all, they can’t help it. Be patient with them, and understand that they aren’t aware of their own emotions or how to deal with them.