How Do I Calm My Dog During A Thunderstorm?

Many dogs have sound phobias. Take a close look at your pup the next time a thunderstorm rolls into your area. Is he panting when he should not be hot or thirsty, repeatedly yawning when he should not be tired, pacing as
though he is looking for an exit or being hypervigilant (looking in many directions)? These are all signs that poor Fido is experiencing some extreme anxiety. Dogs with sound phobias will not get better with reprimand or inundation. In fact, improper exposure with no safe refuge will make the sound phobia much worse.
There are many management techniques that can be adopted to ease your pup’s anxiety, but your empathy is paramount. By providing love and reassurance you are not rewarding the behavior as many believe. The only thing that will reinforce fear is more fear. During a thunderstorm or fireworks event, always make sure your pup is wearing up to date ID tags and you have a current photo of your pup. Exercise your pup very early in the day if you are able to anticipate the event. Allow Fido to find refuge in the innermost and quietest room of your home and turn up all the TVs to drown out the noise.
There are so many tools on the market such as thundershirts, DAP diffusers, essential oils, bioacoustic music for dogs (Through the Dog’s Ear), etc. that have proven clinically effective. In a few rare cases, the fear may be so extreme that prescription medication may be needed. These are all management techniques however, not to be seen as a cure.
In order to rehabilitate the dog’s sound phobia, you must change the emotional state of the dog. You must condition the dog to have a positive association with the thunderstorm, rather than a fear association. This can be done by using counter conditioning techniques in conjunction with desensitization. www.throughadogsear.com has a wonderful collection of CDs, “Canine Noise Phobia Series” which provides desensitization tools along with behavioral modification protocols for owners looking to treat the cause instead of the symptom.

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