Does your puppy whine and pant at the mere sight of dark clouds in the sky? Do they chew, scratch, and pace like there’s no tomorrow at the sound of thunder? If so, your puppy may be suffering from storm anxiety. As a puppy parent, you may be worried about the physical and psychological health of your fur-baby. Let’s take a look at 10 ways you can calm your puppy down during a thunderstorm.
- Keep your puppy indoors. It may sound a bit obvious, but a puppy with storm anxiety should be kept indoors when a thunderstorm is in the forecast. If you can, try to remain at home with your dog as well. Being alone while it rains and thunders outside can add more unneeded stress to your fur-baby. Nothing calms a puppy down more than having their favorite hooman by their side.
- Create a calm atmosphere. One way to create calmness in your home is to play soothing music designed to calm puppies. You can also turn on the TV and play it at full volume or use a white noise machine. All of these methods cancel out the noise of the storm, which eases your furball’s anxiety.
- Use calming remedies. Natural calming remedies can also help improve your pup’s storm anxiety. A thunder jacket, for example, replicates swaddling and adds a little pressure to your pup’s torso, creating a soothing effect for them. Flower extracts, calming oils, and dog pheromones can also promote a sense of calmness in your puppy.
- Give your pup a safe space. Whether it’s your puppy’s crate or a specific room in your house, a safe space will definitely help lower your puppy’s anxiety. If you provide your puppy with a crate, make sure to cover it to create a den-like haven. Always leave the door open so they can leave when they feel comfortable. If your puppy prefers a specific spot or room in your house, lay down a towel and a few of their favorite toys to help them feel comfortable as the thunderstorm rolls in.
- Provide some distractions. Never punish your puppy if they’re whining, panting, or exhibiting any other anxious behaviors. Instead, you can give them some of their favorite treats, play with them, or gently pet them. This can actually help your pup associate this highly stressful time with positive experiences, which can lessen their anxious behaviors in future thunderstorms. Check out our other blog, Is Your Puppy Bored? for a few more ways to distract your puppy.
- Try to desensitize and counterconditioning. Your puppy doesn’t need to fear thunderstorms for long. As a puppy parent, you can desensitize your fur-baby by playing a recording of thunder at low volume and feeding them their favorite treats. As with distractions, this helps them associate thunderstorms with positive stimulus. You should repeat this method and slowly increase the volume over several weeks until their storm anxiety is gone.
- See your puppy’s veterinarian. Some puppies have fears that are too intense for any of the above methods to work. If your puppy still exhibits storm anxiety, the best option is to take a quick trip to the vet. Your puppy’s vet will be able to determine the exact cause of your furball’s behavior as well as provide advice. They may even prescribe medications for your puppy to take. However, medications should always be a last resort effort if all other methods fail.
Remember that even though your pup’s anxious behavior may be disruptive or annoying, they are not doing it as a form of disobedience but as a way to express their fear. Avoid yelling or punishing your puppy as this can worsen their behavior. By enforcing calmness and positive reinforcement, you will help your fur-baby feel safe and comfortable in stormy times.