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Dog Storm Phobia

 

It’s storm season, and Fido is going wild. Maybe he’s pacing, hiding under the bed, shaking, panting, or simply craves your attention – whatever it may be, he’s scared and needs your help. Many pet owners think that their dogs will grow out of their phobias and don’t bother to indulge in Fido’s tantrums. Oftentimes, they will only get worse with time, if nothing is done to help curb your dog’s fears.

 

There are various theories about why dogs are particularly affected by storms. Some say that low-frequency waves and even electric shocks effect dogs immediately preceding the storm, which humans cannot even hear or feel. This builds anxiety, and, by the time the storm has hit, your dog has gone full-fledged manic. But really, can you blame him?

 

Here are a few tips to help alleviate your dog’s storm phobia:

  • Calm him down like you would your own child. Speak to your dog in a soft and soothing voice in order to assure him that there is no need for stress and fear. Never yell at him when he reacts to the storm, this will only increase his fear – and with it, his barking. This does not, however, mean you should over-coddle him. This may only worsen his phobia.
  • Reward calm behavior. Try to train your dog to settle down on command and learn that becoming calm is a behavior that – along with sit and stay – will be rewarded.
  • Exercise and tire out your dog before a storm is scheduled to hit. This way he’ll have less energy to focus on stress.
  • Create a safe room for your dog to go during the storm. This can be a carpeted room without windows, a basement, or other place where you can play calming music without hearing the outside commotion. However, don’t confine your dog to a small space, especially a crate, as this will only build anxiety.
  • Play a CD with light storm sounds in order to better acclimate your dog throughout the year. You can supply him with treats while he remains calm through the sounds, and gradually increase the volume over time.
  • Consider melatonin or other anti-anxiety drugs. Melatonin doesn’t typically make dogs sleep, but it is known to calm them down and help thwart against bothersome noise. If you think your dog could benefit from a prescription – or if you have any other concerns, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian.

Although there’s no easy solution, a few minor adjustments and a bit of patience can go a long way towards helping your Fido weather the storm.