Scaredy Pups: Driving with Dogs Monday 28 May 2018 @ 10:22

adorable, adult, animalYou want to be able to go places and do things with your furry friend, and that can be really difficult when your dog experiences a phobia. Over the last few months, we’ve talked about a number of common fears, the most recent of which was the fear of strangers. This is a fear that can develop as a result of a lack of socialisation, or it can be embedded in your dog’s genes. Whatever the reason, it can make going places with your pup very difficult if you don’t find a way to work through it together.

Some of the other common fears that might be standing in your dog’s way include…

We’re nearing the end of our list, but that doesn’t mean we’ve covered every fear your dog might have! If there’s another fear or phobia you’d like us to cover to spread information and awareness, please do get in touch. Until then, we’re going to talk about what you can do if your dog is afraid of cars.

If your dog tends to dive away from or toward passing cars, it can be a very dangerous and scary experience for both of you. If your dog is afraid to go inside or even just close to a parked vehicle, it can become impossible to travel together on outings, moves and vet trips. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help. Although it may be very upsetting or worrying, it’s actually very common to have a dog who is afraid of passing cars.

Try to Stay Cheerful and Relaxed

Closeup Photo of Scottish Terrier and Adult Short-coated White and Tan DogWhen dealing with passing traffic, try to use a happy, soothing tone of voice and smile at your dog. If you’re anticipating your dog’s reaction, it’s easy to fall into the trap of tensing up every time a car is nearby. This is something your dog will notice. Try not to reinforce your pup’s anxiety with your own.

Always remember the three key rules for helping a dog’s phobia:

  • Do not soothe and cuddle your scared dog. Your dog will read this as a reward, so it’ll only encourage more anxious behaviour.
  • Do not force your dog to confront their fear as a “cure”. This will only intensify the phobia, not help it.
  • Do not physically punish or shout at your scared dog. This will only cause your dog to associate more negative things with the situation.

My Dog Is Afraid of Car Rides

adorable, blur, childBeing afraid of noisy cars passing by on the road is one thing, but being afraid of riding in a car is a whole other issue. Your dog might be afraid of car rides for any number of different reasons, such as…

  • Motion sickness: Humans aren’t the only ones who can vomit or experience nausea when riding in a car. That sick, horrible feeling is a surefire way of getting your dog to associate cars with negative things.
  • Negative association: A lot of dogs only find themselves in a car if they’re going somewhere nasty, like the vet’s. If your dog is already scared of the vet, that fear can transfer onto all related experiences.
  • Traumatic experiences: If your dog has ever been in a car accident or been hit by a car, they may easily come to associate being in or near cars with extreme danger.
  • Trip to the shelter: If you adopted your dog from a rescue or pound, there’s a high chance they’ll associate being put in a car with being taken to a shelter and abandoned. This can be tied in with a fear of abandonment.
  • Fear of the unfamiliar feeling: If your dog isn’t used to travelling in a car, the peculiar sensation can be very disturbing. If your dog is already skittish by nature, it can be downright terrifying. Cars also tend to have their own mysterious sounds, sights, vibrations and smells that can be very difficult to understand.

Make a Comfortable, Secure Travel Seat for Your Dog

Man In Blue Long-sleeved Shirt Carrying DogTry teaching your dog to love the car by giving them somewhere safe and cozy to sit. This can be your dog’s refuge. One of the safest ways for your dog to travel is in a crate, which will give them protection in the event of an accident (N.B.: Not all crates are created equal. Shop around for something heavy-duty if you’re concerned for your dog’s safety!) and helps to stop them from distracting the driver.

If the slope of the car’s seats makes your dog uncomfortable and unstable, you may choose to buy a car leveler, or you can simply make your own using rolled up towels. Try to make your dog’s crate as comfy as you can. It may also be a good idea to drape a breathable towel over the dog’s crate so they can’t be scared by the landscape rushing by, but many dogs prefer to see what’s going on.

Don’t Rush It

Group of People Sitting on White Mat on Grass Field Approach your dog’s phobia with a determined, but calm, attitude. As with any other type of training, patience is key here. If you’re taking your dog somewhere in a rush, now is not the time to try and work through these fears. If you want to help your dog, you need to be ready to do it in their time (not yours). This is a process with two prerequisites:

  1. You have no definite result in mind.
  2. You are willing to take baby steps.

If you try to begin training having already imagined the outcome, it’ll only lead to disappointment for you and distress for your dog.

At the end of the day, once your dog can be taken on walks without being a danger to itself and others, and taken in cars without being in severe distress or causing major distractions to the driver, you can call that a success. Your dog may never be happy to be around cars, just like some people may never be excited to fly in planes. All that either of you can do is your best.

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Scaredy Pups: Dealing with a Fear of Men Friday 11 May 2018 @ 00:00

Man In Blue Long-sleeved Shirt Carrying DogContinuing with our series on helping with doggy phobias, our last post talked about dealing with your dog’s fear of children. This can be a very dangerous fear resulting in aggression on your dog’s part and injury or psychological trauma for the child in question.

Fortunately, though, there are ways of dealing with it.

Other fears you may come across when getting to know your dog might include the following…

We only have a few of these common fears left to cover, so let us know in the comments if there are any you’d like to hear about!

Maiden

Before we can do any of that, though, we’re going to take a look at what you can do if your dog is afraid of men.

If your dog shakes, whines or snarls whenever a man is nearby, they may well have a fear of men. A common assumption is that dogs who are afraid of men feel that way because they’ve experienced trauma or abuse by a man. While there’s always a chance this is the case, it’s also sometimes the case that your dog will have a fear of men without any traumatic history.

It is just as likely (if not more likely) that your dog’s phobia has occurred as a result of physical and social factors.

Please note: This blog post will use some generalizations in discussing what “women” are like and what “men” are like. These descriptions may not all apply to you or the people you know because everyone is different, gender is a universe and our lives and personalities are our own.

Long-coated Brown and Black Dog on Focus PhotoSo why is my dog afraid of men?

The simple answer is this: We don’t know. There is no one, clear-cut reason that your dog would be afraid of men, but there are a few potential causes. The most likely cause of this fear, as with many other fears, is that your dog wasn’t socialized with men as a puppy.

As with the differences between children and adults, there are certain differences that exist between many men and the women and children they may be more comfortable around. For example, many men are louder and take up more space than women, and the vast majority have deeper voices. To animals like dogs, the larger size and louder voice can single out the man as a threat, putting the animal into defense mode.

It’s not uncommon for men and women to act differently with regard to puppies. In many cases, a woman will approach a puppy in a comforting, gentle way. Meanwhile, as being gentle and nurturing is considered a “female” response, many men will instead opt for a more assertive form of play. While this play would be acceptable coming from another dog, human men are generally much larger than dogs so their actions can read as threatening rather than playful.

Another potential cause is that dogs primarily see the world through their noses, and men can smell quite differently to women and children. The fragrances marketed to men and women are very different, and the hormones a dog will smell on each sex will vary, with most men producing testosterone and most women producing estrogen. In nature, the scent of estrogen would be familiar to puppies, as they are nursed by their mother while their father is rarely present.

Do keep in mind, however, that none of these theories have been proven, and we still don’t know the exact reason why some dogs are afraid of men. What we do know is that as their primary caregivers, it’s our responsibility to give them a good life and help them feel safe whenever possible.

Closeup Photo of Scottish Terrier and Adult Short-coated White and Tan Dog

Narrow it Down

Some fears are more complicated and specific than we might expect. Say, for example, your dog whines when your brother-in-law who is a police officer, or the local milkman, comes to visit. You’ll need to figure out if this means your dog is afraid of men, or if she’s specifically afraid of men in strict uniforms. Maybe your dog was once chased by an animal control officer in a uniform, and thinks that all men in uniform are about to do the same.

Are all of the men that scare your dog wearing hats? Are they wearing a specific cologne? Maybe your dog just isn’t used to seeing men in hats, or is confused by the smell of aftershave. There’s every chance that your dog finds these things frightening, and isn’t overly concerned about the wearer’s gender.

adorable, blur, child

Overcoming a Dog’s Fear of Men

If your dog’s fear is severe, you may wish to find an animal behaviourist, trainer or obedience class that can help you. However, a dog whose fear is only mild is generally much easier to help here. The main things you can do to help your dog are similar to those used to cope with other fears.

  • Don’t force your dog out of their comfort zone. If men frequently visit or even live in your house, don’t force your dog to spend time with them. This can often make the fear even worse, and can cause your dog to hurt you or the man in question.
  • Do use treats to encourage progress. Make sure men who spend time around your dog have treats to offer your dog when it’s appropriate. For example, if the dog comes a little closer to them than they normally would, get them to throw a treat (gently). Your dog may not even accept these treats at first, but eventually they should learn to associate men with positive things.
  • Do allow and encourage your dog to approach men of their own accord. Although it may be difficult, you need to get the men in your life to leave your dog alone and not approach the dog until they approach the men themselves. Attempting to befriend a fearful dog can often have the opposite effect.

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Scaredy Pups: Getting Along with Kids Wednesday 11 April 2018 @ 08:46

adorable, blur, childAs part of our series on dealing with dogs who suffer from phobias, our last post discussed how you might go about helping your dog with their fear of other dogs. This is a real issue for some dogs and their owners, who might have uncomfortable run-ins with other dogs on a daily basis. Other fears your dog might struggle with can include:

We plan on covering all of these fears over the course of the series, but for now we’re going to talk about what you might do if your dog is afraid of children.

We all know and love those photographs of children playing and cuddling with their favourite doggy companions. There are thousands of these photos, and hundreds of films and books imagining what these playful pairs might get up to. You may be surprised or disappointed, then, to hear that dogs who are afraid of children aren’t all that uncommon.

A dog’s fear of children makes sense when you think about how they tend to communicate with the world around them. Dogs can’t use words like humans can, so they communicate through sounds and body language. A dog who is used to living with adult humans will be accustomed to the sounds and movements they make. Children speak in a higher pitch to adults. Their steps are unsteady and faster. Their movements can be jerky and unexpected. It’s entirely possible that a child might hurt a dog by accident, or even fall and land on them. When compared to an adult, children and babies could very well appear to be part of a different species entirely.

What might be even more upsetting for a dog is that the presence of a child can also alter the behaviour of the adults around them, making even the most trusted human suddenly unreliable.

How can I tell if my dog’s afraid of children?

Photo of a Girl Playing with the Dog

Indicators that your child is afraid of children are much the same as those exhibited with any fear. The signs below are indicative of extreme stress and your dog should be removed from the stressful situation if they are exhibiting these signs around children. The behaviours a scared dog might show around children can include…

… attempting to hide or escape;
… shutting down or going stiff when children are nearby;
… showing teeth (lip-lifting) and snarling;
… biting or nipping (especially when trapped);
… lunging or yapping;
… lowering of head, increased eye contact;
… shaking, rolling over or recoiling.

In some cases, these behaviours can be fairly subtle so if you think your dog might be afraid of children, watch them carefully!

How can I help my dog recover from their fear of children?

MaidenIf your dog’s fear is of children who visit your home, you need to manage this situation. Begin by identifying an area in your house where your dog can go and where you can prevent children from entering. For example, you may have a room where you can close the door, or set up a baby gate. Make sure children are supervised at all times, as you can’t always trust kids not to open a door or try to touch something through a gate.

Begin training by having children you can trust to behave calmly walk past at a safe distance from your dog while providing your dog’s favourite treats. Your dog should be kept on a leash for safety, but should eventually come to associate the presence of children with good things.

If your dog’s fear is an issue when children are present outside the home, try avoiding parks and schools where kids might be playing.

Always keep socialization fun!

Closeup Photo of Scottish Terrier and Adult Short-coated White and Tan DogAs we’ve mentioned in many of our Phobia Series posts, flooding isn’t generally the best technique when it comes to training your dog out of fearing something. If you want your pup to enjoy something, you need to make sure their experiences of that thing are relaxed and enjoyable. Make sure your dog knows that you appreciate it when they gently check a child out, but don’t force them to do this until all parties are ready.

For example, if their fear of children causes them to act timidly, you can help your dog by getting some quiet, calm children to just sit quietly and spend time making sure your pup is happy and safe. Socializing your dog doesn’t need to involve throwing them in at the deep end with a crowd of noisy kids. Don’t exhaust your dog by forcing them to process sounds and sensations that are scary.

Start by introducing children one at a time, not all at once.

Are your kids animal-friendly?

Long-coated Brown and Black Dog on Focus PhotoIn some cases, the issue might not be with your dog at all. It could be the children who are the issue. It can be pretty difficult to find children who are actually good with animals, especially when they’re very young. Animal-handling skills aren’t generally something that comes naturally to a kid. It’s something that has to be learned, so they won’t always get it right the first time.

Relatively few children will happily sit still, watch another child pet a dog without getting jealous and piling in, stay calm and respectful, pay attention to where a dog actually likes to be pet or take care to pet gently. If your kid isn’t instantly perfect at handling a dog, try learning what works together. This can be a great bonding opportunity for you, your child and your dog.

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Scaredy Pups: Helping Your Dog Make Friends Monday 26 March 2018 @ 08:38

Closeup Photo of Scottish Terrier and Adult Short-coated White and Tan DogOver the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about how you might go about helping your dog deal with some of their fears. Our last post talked about one of the stranger fears you might encounter when you live with a dog: The Fear of Stairs. This issue can really get in the way of living a normal home life with your dog, but thankfully in most cases, it can be dealt with through some training. Other examples of common doggy fears include:

We hope to discuss all of these fears in time, but this week we’re going to focus on The Fear of Other Dogs.

It’s not unusual for a dog to feel nervous around other dogs every now and then. There are probably some humans out there that make you feel nervous yourself. This only becomes a real problem if it becomes an everyday occurrence for your dog, in which case you’ll need to become proactive in helping with your pup’s fear. Understanding the source of your dog’s fear will help you deal with it, and can be vital in allowing your dog to be happy and healthy.

Animal, bark, black wallpaperYour dog’s fear of other dogs will affect both of you. It can turn a simple activity like walking the dog into a stressful event. Some owners find themselves timing their walks or altering their routes to avoid other walkers, but there will always be a sense of dread just in case someone else has had the same idea. These actions can also prevent your dog from having any opportunity to socialize, which can make their fear even worse.

Fear as a Result of Trauma

If your dog is easily spooked, a series of these negative and scary experiences can easily cause the development of a phobia. For example, this could happen to a small-breed dog or young pup if they encounter larger dogs who want to play in a manner that could be harmful to a dog of smaller stature. Over time, your dog could come to associate larger dogs with danger and may bark, snarl or behave aggressively towards any they come across.

It should be noted that while small dogs are used as an example above, it’s very much possible for similar things to happen to larger dogs. Similarly, while the other dogs in the example are just playing rough, trauma can also occur as a result of genuine, aggressive attacks from other dogs.

For some dogs, this fear might be because they’ve experienced something traumatic in their past which is having an impact on their behaviour. In some cases, it might occur because of insufficient socialization, making meeting unfamiliar dogs a new and terrifying experience. In certain situations, it might be simply that your dog is submissive by nature, and this display of fear is their way of accepting the other dog’s dominance.

Long-coated Brown and Black Dog on Focus PhotoSmall Dogs: Know Your Safe Breeds

While there are loads of great ways to improve your dog’s ability to interact with other dogs safely, dogs of smaller breeds may always have a fear of some breeds. There’s nothing wrong with accepting that your dog has certain limitations, and understanding that their fear, at least to them, is fully justifiable. For example, a small or toy breed dog may begin to feel comfortable around other small and toy breeds, and even medium breeds, but large breeds may simply be too large.

Similarly, your dog may learn how to read signals and become comfortable interacting with dogs who are being openly friendly but may not develop the confidence to approach dogs who aren’t sending these signals. This is fine, and may just prevent further traumatic experiences.

How Do I Tell if My Dog is Experiencing Anxiety?

In almost every case, anxiety is rooted in fear. As with humans, anxiety in dogs can exist anywhere between mild fear and utter panic. Generally, this will result in your dog taking on either a defensive or offensive position.

Signs that your dog is panicking include:

  • Snarling;
  • Excessive barking;
  • Active effort to escape;
  • Bowing;
  • Growling.

Ongoing anxiety can also lead to nervous symptoms such as biting and licking themselves or diarrhoea. Dogs who are only experiencing mild fear may show some of the following signs:

  • Trembling;
  • Cowering or shrinking away;
  • Vague attempts at escaping;
  • Lower activity;
  • Tail-tucking.

Photo of a Girl Playing with the DogIn all cases, your chances of success will be highest if you get to start young. If you have a new puppy, ensure that they’re fully vaccinated and then start socializing with as many dogs as you can (making sure this is in a controlled, secure environment). If you’re still in the planning stages of getting a puppy, be sure to talk to the shelter, store or breeder about how the pup has been socialized with littermates and other dogs.

If your dog is older and has missed this key socialization stage, you’re going to need to begin rehabilitation in gradual, gentle steps. Whatever you do, don’t force them to face their fear before they’re ready. This can be a traumatic experience and will only make your dog’s fear even worse. One of the strongest items in your toolbox is a technique known as desensitization. This involves introducing your dog to their trigger - in this case, other dogs - in a slow, systematic way. The idea is to allow them to learn over time that other dogs aren’t actually that scary.

Maiden

Dogs are a common and much-loved pet, and as a result, they’re pretty much everywhere. This means there’s a very high chance you and your dog will bump into a strange dog without having time to prepare first. Try to ready yourself by training your dog to respond to a “let’s go” command or something similar, so you can both remove yourselves from the situation with minimal anxiety.

For many dogs, picking them up will only stress them out further, so it’s best for your dog to be able to follow you on foot. One way is to start with your dog on a leash somewhere you won’t bump into strange dogs, such as your own house. Begin walking, but suddenly change direction and encourage them to follow you using a happy voice and/or gestures.

Each time your dog follows you successfully, reward them enthusiastically with toys, food or whatever else they love the most. Once this is going smoothly at home, you can start doing it when you’re out and about.

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Scaredy Pups: Helping Your Dog Get Up The Stairs Monday 12 March 2018 @ 08:26

Long-coated Brown and Black Dog on Focus PhotoLast month, we helped to reunite border collie Maiden with her family. Maiden had a fear of thunder, so we decided to give you all some tips on helping your pup’s fear of thunder to celebrate the reunion. Astraphobia, the fear of thunder, is one of the most common fears experienced by dogs, along with fear of other loud noises such as fireworks. Other examples of common doggy fears include:

  • Other dogs;
  • Strangers;
  • Children;
  • Cars;
  • Abandonment;
  • Men;
  • Specific objects;
  • Vets.

We’ll discuss all of these fears in the future, but first we’re going to explore one of the strangest and most inconvenient of the common dog fears: The Fear of Stairs.

Animal, bark, black wallpaperMany of us have encountered a dog who is afraid of staircases and other steps, or at least seen videos of them online. Watching your pup cry, give up, tuck their tail between their legs or tremble hopelessly at the sight of stairs can be understandably stressful or upsetting for any caring owner.

A common way of dealing with this fear is to force the dog up and down the steps in an attempt to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t always help an animal to overcome the fear. To truly help your dog’s fear, you really need an understanding of the underlying causes.

There are any number of different reasons that this fear has developed. In some cases, the dog might have experienced something in the past that has caused them to associate stairs with things that are scary, hurtful or otherwise unpleasant. Maybe the dog was once scolded for ascending, descending or going near a set of steps, or was pushed down them.

MaidenPerhaps the dog fell down steps as a puppy and was frightened by the experience, or has simply never come across stairs before.

Maybe the dog was abused by previous owners, and was led up steps to the place where the abuse occurred. Older dogs may develop a fear of stairs if they’re used to living in single-storey homes and are suddenly moved into a house with more than one floor. If your dog never had to climb stairs in their formative years and received no training, it’s likely you’ll see a certain amount of fear at first.

In these cases, it’s very possible that even the most well-behaved and gentle dog will bite or nip their owner in a bid to communicate their fear. Rather than forcing your dog to live through their biggest fear with no effect, it’s often a better idea to help them through use of counter-conditioning and positive reinforcement (positive motivators like treats and praise).

However, before you attempt to train them out of this fear, you should consult with your vet first to make sure this step-phobia isn’t the result of an injury or other physical condition.

Overcoming the Fear

The good news is that it’s generally fairly simple to help your dog recover from their fear of the stairs. These are just a few tips to help you on your way:

  • Photo of a Girl Playing with the DogMake Way! Before trying to get your dog up the stairs, make sure the steps are clear and safe. Remove anything that your dog could knock over or stumble on. Getting spooked right at the start of training will only make matters worse!
  • Counter-Condition! As the Animal Humane Society explain, “Counter conditioning means training an animal to display a behaviour that is different than his current reaction to a stimulus.” In other words, you want to replace your dog’s reaction of fear with one of excitement or joy. You may begin by standing near the staircase and encouraging your dog to approach. Tools that may come in handy here include a high value treat or a cherished toy.
  • When your dog comes to you by the stairs, shower them with praise and reward them appropriately. Try to remove their negative association to the stairs by replacing it with the feeling that they are the best dog on the planet.
  • Start at the Beginning! Don’t try to force your dog to run before they’ve learned to walk. If the stairs in your house are very steep, make things simpler by taking Rover somewhere with low, wide steps. Get your dog to practice climbing here with all of the encouragement, treats and rewards they need. If possible, someone should stay behind them on the stairs to provide extra support. Each time they reach the top or bottom of the steps, give them an extra special reward.
  • White and Black Cat With Tongue Out at DaytimeUps and Downs! Keep in mind that going up and down the stairs can be two completely different experiences for dogs, and require different skill sets. Once your dog has mastered going up the stairs, be prepared to start the entire process again from the top!
  • Choose Your Timing Wisely. Dogs are more receptive to training when they are happy and alert. If your dog is overly tired, needs to eat or is eagerly waiting for a walk, it’s best to save your training for later. It’s also a good idea to keep Rover’s interest by splitting training sessions into numerous shorter (around 10 minutes) sessions rather than one long lesson.
  • It can be a good idea to plan your training sessions for directly before playtime or a walk outside. This will mean your dog is happier about training as they’ll know that something fun will happen afterwards.

If you believe your dog’s fear of stairs may be as a result of abuse in the past, there may be some other things you can do to help them. Start by reading some of our other posts on the subject!

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Scaredy Pups: Helping Your Dog with their Fear of Thunder Monday 26 February 2018 @ 09:39

MaidenEveryone's a little bit scared of something. Some of us are scared of spiders, others of clowns, so it makes sense that our canine companions should have similar issues! Thunder! Vacuum cleaners! Other dogs! All of these can be absolutely terrifying to some dogs.

This month, we helped to reunite Maiden the black and white border collie with her family. According to Maiden’s family, she “[h]as a limp. Friendly but very scared of thunder.” This isn’t uncommon. In fact, astraphobia (fear of thunder) is one of the most common fears for a dog to experience. Other members of the list of common dog fears include…

  • Fireworks;
  • Vets;
  • Stairs;
  • Strangers;
  • Specific objects;
  • Children;
  • Men;
  • Cars;
  • Abandonment.

We’ll cover some of these other fears in time but for now, how can you help your dog’s fear of thunder?

Animal, bark, black wallpaperShow your dog that you appreciate their calm behaviour.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of attention and approval when they’re behaving in a calm, happy way. For this to work, it can be a good idea to train your dog to settle down on command. You can do this by keeping a separate leash that’s only used when inside the house and getting your dog to lie down at your feet with the leash on as you praise and reward their behaviour. Don’t wait for the stormy season to begin this training!

If your dog only gets cuddles and attention when they’re clambering all over you and whimpering in fear, this will encourage them to continue their panicky behaviour. It can be a better idea to offer distractions in the form of toys and games. Give them all of the support they need when they’re in distress, yes, but don’t make it seem like a surefire way to get treats and pets!

Practice calm behaviour while there’s no storm to get worked up over, so your dog gets a sense of the new routine. Once the storm arrives, putting the leash on will signal to your dog that it’s time to be calm. This will also give them something else to focus on, distracting them from the thunder. Your goal is to give them something more interesting and positive to think about.

White and Black Cat With Tongue Out at DaytimePredict the Future!

Compared to the other fears and phobias your dog might be dealing with, thunder is a whole lot easier to predict:

  • Weather forecasts often over-predict thunderstorms, which makes it easier to prepare than if they were to under-predict.
  • In most cases, thunderstorms will occur in the afternoons, or to a lesser extent in the evenings and nighttime.

Once you can predict a storm, you’re able to take action before the storm takes place. All you really need to do is pay attention to the weather forecast. The main sources of fear that come with thunderstorms are the loud noises, unusual darkness, specific smell and cold/rain if your dog is made to stand outside in the storm. The best thing you can do is take your dog inside and keep them somewhere safe (even better if it’s sound-proofed).

Photo of a Girl Playing with the DogGet plenty of exercise in before the storm starts.

When a thunderstorm weather warning is released, it can be a good idea to take your dog out for a few extra walks in advance. Things will be a whole lot worse if the storm means your dog doesn’t get an opportunity to exercise properly, and the extra bit of exertion before the storm hits can tire your dog out both physically and mentally, which is good in this scenario.

As with humans, exercise could also boost your dog’s serotonin levels, which will allow them to feel calmer in the long run.

Ciarra and KeishaCreate calmer noises.

If the thunderstorm begins and you’re unable to calm your dog down, it can be helpful to mask the noise as much as possible. Less “threatening” noises such as those produced by the radio or TV can dilute the sound of thunder. Another idea is to close all the windows and crank up a white noise machine or air conditioner. Don’t turn the volume up too high, though, as a large part of your dog’s fear probably comes from a fear of loud noises. There are a few white noise apps you can find on your smartphone which can come in handy here.

Animal, cute animals, dogConsider investing in a compression vest

Products such as the ThunderShirt are designed to help anxious animals deal with the things that stress them out, such as thunder and other loud noises. The idea is that these garments will calm your pet by applying pressure in specific areas, causing calming endorphins to be produced. Think of it as being sort of like an artificial hug you can strap onto your dog.

Research appearing in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour (King, C., Buffington, L., Smith, T.J., Grandin, T., The effect of a pressure wrap (ThunderShirt®) on heart rate and behavior in canines diagnosed with anxiety disorder, Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2014.06.007.) concluded that:

Results from this study showed dogs who wore the ThunderShirt® to manufacturer’s specifications had lowered heart rate, decreased visual orientation towards the door (looking for their owner), as well as trending toward reduced yawning and tongue-flicking stress behaviors.

Woman Holding Dogs a Miscellany BookStop the Static!

This is an idea that may be a little surprising: some studies have suggested that rather than the sound of thunder, it’s actually the sensation of static electricity in your dog’s fur that will make them miserable during a storm. If you manage to block out the noise and your dog is still in panic mode, this may be the problem. Is Rover suddenly cowering in the bathtub or the basement?

Some pet owners have suggested that what your dog is really doing is searching for somewhere grounded where these electric shocks won’t bother them anymore. It seems the best place for your dog to hide in this case is the bathtub, where they can comfortably hide until the storm is over.

For more information about how pets experience storms, try checking out some of our other articles!

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