Pups of Sydney | Coping with Storms
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Coping with Storms

 

Perhaps you know the drill: A clap of thunder, a flash of lightning, and your ordinarily calm dog is out of sight and off crying or on a frantic search for a hiding place.

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Your pet is not alone. Sadly, animal shelters see an uptick in strays after thunderstorms. Pets that aren’t properly confined may run off in frantic fear of the deafening noise; other pets are abandoned when their owners decide they can no longer handle their erratic behaviour.

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What you can do:

  1. Set the “Safe Zone”
    • Create a safe, storm-proof place for your pet.
    • To find the ideal safe haven, pay attention to where your pet goes when a storm starts. If possible, help make this her permanent safe zone by adding a blanket, toy, or water dish. Crates can be safe spots, but a key feature should be that it’s as far away from storm sounds as possible.
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  2. Desensitisation
    • Reward calm behaviour – Don’t wait for your dog to act fearful to give her attention. When one consoles a whimpering dog, this is actually rewarding the unwanted behaviour.
    • Use a product like Thundershirt when it’s not raining. Many owners make the mistake of putting their dogs in these snug-fitting calming jackets after a storm has begun. In fact, have your pup wear the shirt before a storm hits, when he/she’s already happy and relaxed, this will help him associate the sensation of wearing it with feeling calm.
    • Try not to appear anxious yourself — your pup will pick up on that and will remain fearful. Try to avoid giving “cues” that something is wrong.
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  3. Veterinary Intervention
    • For dogs with mild anxiety, the above techniques may be helpful.
    • Dogs who have prolonged fear of storms that have been left untreated may not respond to behaviour modification techniques due to the exhaustion surrounding the fear.
    • Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help your pet feel calmer and be better to learn to manage their fear.
Category

Health

Tags
behaviour, coping with storms, lightning, storm, thunder