Some pups are nervous and anxious by nature, which can be exacerbated by loud noises and thunderstorms. Even dogs who usually act fearless may whimper and whine during bad weather, and the level of anxiety your pup experiences can be ramped up if you aren’t there to comfort him. Planning in advance can help keep your pup feeling relatively calm and secure when the wind starts to howl.
If you know a storm is brewing, and you won’t be at home when it hits, give your dog a good round of exercise to tire him out and make him less edgy. Feed him, water him, and give him time to eliminate after play so he won’t have any nervous accidents when thunder strikes. If you can’t be there, ask a friend or neighbor to handle this prestorm routine for you.
Create a designated area of your home to use as a dog storm shelter. This should be an area that’s relatively well-insulated, like an interior room or even a walk-in closet. Place a kennel or crate in the shelter area that’s large enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around and lay down. If it’s not too hot, place a thick blanket over three sides of the kennel to create a cave-like environment that will make your pup feel safe.
Provide Chew Toys
Dogs often soothe themselves by chewing, so put a favorite chew toy in the shelter kennel. Select something long-lasting, such as a rawhide, or a toy that will occupy his attention. Consider a rubber ball filled with kibble or a chew treat with a tasty filling your dog will have to work at getting out. If he has a security blanket, or something old that smells like you, put that in the kennel as well.
Turn on a fan or a television or radio to provide ambient noise that will help drown out the sound of the storm. Don’t make it so loud that it hurts your pup’s ears, but rather, just loud enough that it masks the thunder to some degree. If you have two dogs, keep them together during the storm to help provide distraction as well as provide comfort and companionship.
If your dog has extremely high anxiety or panic attacks when a storm strikes, you might talk to your vet about providing him with a mild sedative in advance of impending storms. Some pups can become overwhelmed by loud noises and unanticipated bursts of sounds. A light medication can help him weather the storms, as well as give you peace of mind when you’re not able to be with him.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.