Behavior Mod.

Dealing With Storm Phobia in Dogs

Here comes another thunderstorm with lightning and loud thunder and off your dog goes to hide under the bed or jump in your lap. Have you considered your beloved pet is suffering from a not uncommon condition known as storm phobia in dogs? You can bet he or she is if this is their normal reaction when a storm blows through. There are several ways this phobia can manifest itself, so below we will cover what to look for.

Storm Phobia in Dogs

Commons signals for this problem include excessive panting, trembling, suddenly defecating or urinating, hiding behind furniture, wanting to be held by you until the storm has passed, crying or whining, and dilated pupils. I had a dog that had a mild form of storm phobia in dogs but he reacted in a rather odd manner when the thunder and lightning start. If he could get out, he ran out into the rain and barked at the thunder and lightning like by doing so the loud noises are going to stop!

According to the article quoted below on Dogs.About.com these simple tips can help your dog thorough a storm.

There are ways you can indirectly comfort your dog during thunderstorms (or other sources of fear and anxiety). One thing you can try is to provide a comfortable hiding place in the quietest part of your home. A crate with a soft bed inside and covered with a sheet might make your dog feel safer. Try playing music or white noise to drown out the noise. Consider trying a CD like Through a Dog’s Ear. In addition, using Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) in the “safe place” might also help. Some dogs benefit from a type of wrap, like the Thundershirt, that is believed to provide some comfort during times of anxiety, stress and fear.

This condition normally is more likely to happen with certain breeds such as the German Shepard, Collies, and other dogs with the natural “herding” instinct but can become apparent in all breeds also. There are at present no veterinarian recommended medications for treating this problem. One of the best ways to help your dog through these episodes is be calm and gentle with them while speaking to the dog in a reassuring manner. Calmly petting the dog while speaking in a calm reassuring voice allows your dog to know you are there and he or she is safe.

If calming the dog doesn’t work, another excellent method is to use the “Thundershirt”, which you will see advertised here on the DogingtonPost.com. Click on the ad for more info.

We have a dog now that trembles and pants uncontrollably in a storm unless he is wearing the Thundershirt. With it on, he is just a little wary during a storm, but no longer trembles and pants. As a matter of fact, we now know when a storm is coming, because a couple of minutes before we start hearing it, he will go over to where we keep the shirt and start begging or whining until we put it on him.

Dealing with storm phobia in dogs can be difficult but is manageable if the owner takes into consideration this is a real and very terrifying condition for the dog. Plenty of reassurance and love will go a long way in helping your dog handle storms in a more stable way.

Have you owned a dog with this condition? Please pass this article along to friends who have pets suffering from storm phobia and any comments below are appreciated.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar Of Judy

    Judy

    says:

    Playing music/the radio or having the TV to distract with noise also helps. Before there were ‘thundershirts,’ we used a t-shirt tied up around the dog’s stomach to comfort. Playing with the dog and using rewards for games works also.

    I used to practice ‘hide and seek’ with my border collies — it is actually teaching the dog to SIT and STAY and then calling COME! to have the dog find you. I would hide in the house somewhere after putting my dog at a SIT, STAY somewhere else in the house.

    I started using the hallway to teach Sit/Stay because there aren’t a lot of distractions. Then, I gradually moved down the hallway, further and further away. Eventually, I could leave the dog’s sight and hide somewhere in the house. This game, with a slice of turkey frank — the size of a nickel — makes for a wonderful training game, and it’s a great distraction in a storm.

  2. Avatar Of Judy

    Judy

    says:

    I’ve never had a dog afraid of storms! I had 5 border collies, and now have 6 shelter/rescue dogs since my BCs are over the Rainbow Bridge. First time we were in a storm, my 9 month old BC and I were on top of a super-high bridge that seemed to take us up onto the clouds! And, here came the thunder and super-close lightning!

    I told her to “Get it!” She barked at it. Kept her from being afraid. Since I train my dogs, I also train them to bark and not bark. So, doing that, we never had to deal with constant barking — during storms or otherwise. Training a dog works wonders! There is a book entitled “Communicating with Your Dog” by Ted Baer (now in a newer edition) that I have recommended to people for years because it is user-friendly and can be used with children to help train their pets. There is a vocabulary to use, and it explains how to think like a dog… so you have a clue about what you are doing when you are training your dog. 🙂

    I write for Cody’s Friends Rescue, and we try to get people to invest in that book because you can find it for pennies also at Amazon.com … it doesn’t matter what version you get, it’w what you do with the information. I love people who will work with their dogs … training can save your dog’s life. I know.

  3. Avatar Of Mindy

    Mindy

    says:

    We played ball with our puppies when it was thunderstorming so now they are not afraid and go to where the ball is on her crate to play ball!! One is a chow mix other pit bull.

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