A large number of dogs are fearful of thunder and other loud noises, and they suffer immensely whenever there’s a thunderstorm. Some dogs shake and whine uncontrollably, some find a place to hide, and others cause harm to themselves and others as a result of trying to flee. Even after years of experiencing storms, dogs have no idea that thunder isn’t a threat, and many behave as if the world might be coming to an end.
When an impending thunderstorm makes your dog anxious, don’t feed his fear by reacting to it. Pets take their cues from humans, and they watch for signs of stress. When thunder booms and lightening strikes, behave as usual, and go about your business. If you act as if nothing is wrong, your dog will be less fearful.
Don’t give your dog treats or other rewards in an effort to calm his fears during a thunderstorm. Rewarding your dog when he’s shaking, whining, or fleeing the scene will only reinforce his fears. Only reward your dog when he’s behaving normally, and during thunderstorms, try to distract him with activities he enjoys.
If your dog quakes and shakes when it thunders, divert his attention to other activities. If your dog loves playing ball, engage him in a lively game of fetch. If he likes playing tug-of-war, get out his favorite rope, and encourage him to play. Take his mind off of impending doom, and hopefully he’ll eventually realize that thunder is nothing more than noise.
Along with the above mentioned tactics to quell your dog’s fear, begin conditioning him when the weather is fair and sunny. Obtain a recording of thunder, and play it on a low volume setting. If your dog reacts adversely to the recording, turn it down to a level that doesn’t send him away shivering and shaking. Play the recording a few times each day, and after several days, begin increasing the volume. If your dog ever shows signs of fear, turn the volume down to a comfortable level. Gradually conditioning your dog to the sound of thunder can help him get over his fear.
Fear is a horrendous feeling to continually suffer from, and if your dog doesn’t get over his fear of thunder, consult your veterinarian. There are medications to reduce anxiety in animals, and when all else fails, medication can help your dog. The health, happiness, and overall well being of your dog depends on the care you provide for him, so give it your best shot to help your dog get over his fear of thunder.