Pets and thunder storms are not usually a good mix. Dogs seems to be especially susceptible to them and start climbing the walls or hide under a bed whenever the boomers start. Why dogs are more prone to this irrational behavior is a mystery – maybe they’re just a more superstitious lot than cats or hamsters. Whatever the reason behind their fears, it’s our job as responsible pet owners to help them get through the inclement weather while destroying as little of the house as possible. Here are some tips.
First, don’t punish your dog for being afraid. Many people are afraid of spiders. If they were all spanked and shouted at when they saw a spider in the bathtub, do you think they’d be cured? Of course not. It’s an irrational fear and your dog doesn’t know reason from an exhaust manifold, so don’t bother trying to appeal to his/her intellect.
If your dog has a “safe place” they like to go to when things get rough, then don’t discourage them. Let them hide under the bed or cower in the cupboards if it makes them calm enough to ride out the storm. The jury’s still out on whether or not trying to cuddle and soothe your dog during these times is a good idea. Some think that it will reinforce the dog’s negative behavior. Our suggestion: do what works. If soothing your dog during thunder storms helps to keep them calm and has no other unwanted side effects, then start soothing.
Teaching Rover to be unafraid when the storms come is a difficult proposition, but it can be done. Some report success by playing recordings of storms at a low volume when the dog is participating in stress-free, fun activities. This can slowly and gently wean them of their fears.
We’re sure that to some dogs, a good thunder storm must seem like the sky is falling and the world is coming to an end. But you can help them through it by not punishing their irrational fears, and by gently coaxing them into the light.