Owning a dog with anxiety means that things like storms and fireworks are a real problem in my house. Any time one of the neighbors sets off fireworks for a holiday, Bean’s automatic reaction is to go and cower under the couch or to curl up on her bed and withdraw for the rest of the night. She will shake with fear and it breaks my heart every time. Powerful thunderstorms produce nearly the same reaction in Bean and she’s not the only dog.
So what can we do to help to ease our dog’s fears when thunder and lighting strike? Consider some of the tips below:
Use calming supplements such as CBD, rescue remedy, or calming chews
While CBD can be given to your fearful dog every day to help calm anxiety, rescue remedy and calming treats should be given on an as needed basis.
If the forecast calls for storms or you see a storm rolling in, consider giving your dog some calming supplements to help take the edge off their fear. If your dog’s fear is so severe that they harm themselves you might want to consult with a veterinarian.
In addition to calming supplements, it’s worth a try to invest in some quality essential oils and diffuse them throughout your home. Essentials oils like lavender and lemongrass are known to have a calming effect on your dog, but it may be wise to try it out before the next storm hits as each dog may have a different reaction to each oil.
3. Create a safe space.
With or without storms, your dog should always have a safe space in their home. This safe space is all their own and filled with all the things that they love (their toys, bed, and blanket). Creating a safe space gives your dog somewhere to go when they are stressed, anxious, or just need to be alone.
4. Give your dog something he really wants.
Distract your dog from the storm with some high value treats, a favorite toy, or a puzzle. For instance, when Bean starts to get particularly anxious, I try to always give her a bully stick to chew on for awhile because I know how much she loves them. You could also try stuffing and freezing a KONG (check out these ideas from Puppy Leaks) just for situations when your dog is anxious.
Another good way to distract your dog is by drowning out the sounds of the storm with some calming dog music or the TV.
5. Do NOT coddle your dog
As tempting as it might be to want to snuggle up with your dog and reassure them that everything is OK, this behavior does nothing but reinforce the fear and assure your dog that there is in fact, something to be afraid of.
Instead, you want to always be sure to reward the behaviors that you are seeking. When your dog remains calm, be sure to reward them with a high value treat. You can do this throughout the year and with anything that triggers their anxiety.
Storms can be rough for you and your dog. Its hard to see your dog be afraid and feel powerless to help them. Fortunately, you do not have to be powerless anymore. With these tips for helping your dog deal with storms, you and your dog will be pros at this in no time.
Download this quick printable with tips for how to help your dog relax during storms.
What do you do to help your dog relax during storms? Leave a comment below 🙂