For some pups, lightning strikes, thunder, howling wind or hail can trigger panic attacks that make them miserable and uncontrollable. Some outgrow such fears as they mature; others don't. While you can't completely eliminate you dog’s fear of storms, you can help ease anxiety with a variety of treatments, along with plenty of TLC.
Some pups respond well in scary situations like storms if you can find a pleasant way to distract their attention. For example, give your dog a rawhide bone with peanut butter on it when he starts exhibiting signs of anxiety from a storm. The chewing will help calm him, and the peanut butter will hold his interest longer than a bare bone. He'll be able to self-soothe as he focuses on something other than the scary noises from the storm.
Play and Attention
If you know a storm is brewing, exercise your dog ahead of time by playing with him. You'll relieve tension and, when the storm hits, he’ll be tired rather that wired. Keep your pup close by you if it makes him feel safe and secure, and watch television or listen to music as a way to mitigate the noises coming from outside. Hold him, talk to him and soothe him so he associates the storm sounds with something pleasant rather than something negative. Never scold or punish your pup for his fear.
Crate training your dog when he is young will give him a safe and comforting cavelike space to retreat to when storms strike. Dogs have a tendency to feel secure in a snug environment; covering the outside of his crate with dark blankets can help buffer storm sounds and make him feel safe and protected. Insulate the crate by putting it in an interior room of your home, if possible. Don't put on a covering that will make the space too hot or restrict air movement.
Talk to your vet to see if your pup is a good candidate for a canine antianxiety medication. This type of approach should be taken only under the supervision of a vet, and you should never medicate your dog with human meds. Your vet may advise you to pre-medicate your pup before a storm strikes to alleviate fear and discomfort before it begins.
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.