Thunderstorms occur all year-round across Australia and can be terrifying for our pets. As responsible pet owners, it’s crucial to understand how to comfort and care for our dogs during these intense weather events. If your canine family member starts to tremble as soon as the skies darken, here are some things you can do to ease thunderstorm anxiety in dogs.
Calming techniques for animals during thunderstorms
Create a safe space
Creating a safe haven helps your pet feel protected when they’re frightened. For some dogs this may be a crate; for others it may be their bed, or a cosy corner of the room with their favourite blanket or toy.
Offer distractions such as treats, toys, or engaging activities to redirect your dog’s attention away from the storm. Start their favourite game just before the storm arrives, or save their favourite toy for scary weather. This will teach your dog that storms can also bring good times, and help alleviate fear.
Reassure your dog with gentle petting and soothing words. Your presence and calmness can be a source of comfort during the storm. However, avoid overdoing it, as excessive attention may reinforce anxious behaviour.
Play calming music or use white noise machines to minimise the sounds of the storm. This may help create a more serene environment for your pet.
Preventing fear in the long run
Expose your dog to recorded thunderstorm sounds at low volume and gradually increase it over time. Pair these sounds with positive experiences, such as playtime or treats, to build positive associations. Keep in mind that they can also be distressed by the flashes of light and the changes in air pressure during a storm, so this may not work for all dogs.
Consult with your veterinarian for guidance on managing and alleviating your dog’s fear during thunderstorms. They can provide personalised strategies based on your dog’s specific needs.
By understanding your dog’s anxiety during thunderstorms and implementing these practical tips, you can create a supportive environment that eases their fears and strengthens the bond between you both.