How to Deal With Fear of Storms or Storm Phobia in your Dog.
Storm Phobia is not unusual. It usually starts from around 4 years of age and it will get worse if it is not addressed.
What can you do?
- Do not punish your dog. Your dog is not being disobedient, it is truly fearful and can be in a state of panic and is looking for guidance.
- Try to act like everything is OK. Try to interact with the dog with something they enjoy. For example -prepare a kong toy with treats or play with a ball. Do a training drill or give a bone. Try not to hug & pat & reassure the dog (this sends the signal that something is wrong and can make them more anxious) but do interact with it in a positive way. Reward normal behaviour.
- Do everything you can reasonably do to limit your dog’s exposure to storms. Make a safe place where your dog can go to avoid all aspects of the storm. Preferably it is a small place with no windows so the storm cannot be seen by the dog. It could be a solid sided crate with the door left open. It should be a place that the dog is encouraged and taught to use daily & it should be seen as a happy place with toys, chews, food, water and a favourite blanket. Some dogs will choose the bathroom or under the bed. This should be allowed if it suits the family but access needs to be 24/7. This is particularly important if you are away.
- Help reduce the storm sound by having a radio or TV on or down loading some calming dog music! Petmusic.com
- Use Pheromone therapy –Dog Appeasing Pheromone or DAP is an artificial replicate of the pheromone produced by the mammary glands of the bitch. It can be very comforting and calming for a stressed dog. It should be used in or near the dog’s safe place. It comes as a diffuser, or a collar or a spray.
- A Thundershirt may help some dogs, but you need to be careful with use in hot weather, it can’t be left on all day!
- Medication-some dogs need medication to help them lower their anxiety and learn coping mechanisms. Some need medication to keep them safe. There is a genetic component to Storm Phobia and for some dogs medication will be essential. A consultation will be required.
- Desensitisation– When storm season has passed some people advocate playing storm sounds to the dog with increasing loudness. Unfortunately, a storm is more than noise and there is little evidence this will help the problem