The lights flicker as a loud “BOOM” resonates through the air. To you, a thunderstorm may provide a soothing background soundtrack to read by, but to some dogs, a thunderstorm is much worse. When summer arrives we tend to think of long days in the sun, but with those long sunny days comes the dark and tumultuous storms that characterize the summer for most of the U.S. Whether you live in Montana or Mississippi, your hometown will most likely be visited by thunderstorms at some point during the season. If your dog doesn’t like storms, then the below tips are for you.
In dogs, a fear of thunderstorms is often referred to as storm anxiety or noise phobia. If your dog is suffering from storm anxiety rest assured that you are not alone. Thousands of dogs experience mild to crippling fear during thunderstorms. Typically, a noise phobia is not something that a dog will just grow out of, and if left unchecked you dog’s phobia can take on very real and very serious side effects. In some cases, dogs will run and hide under a bed when a storm approaches, in other more extreme cases, owners have reported their dogs chewing through drywall to reach their safe spot if they are left alone when a storm hits. Sadly, there’s no way to stop severe weather from coming. However, there are several techniques to try when working with your dog to manage their storm anxiety.
There is still debate among dog lovers and veterinarians alike as to what it is that triggers dogs during thunderstorms. Some theories include parts of the storms such as the wind, thunder, or lightning, whereas others predict that it is the lesser seen stressors such as barometric pressure changes, static electricity, or low-frequency rumbles that prompt dogs to engage in fearful behavior. Some dog’s anxiety can become so extreme during storms that they suffer panic attacks. So how can you keep your canine calm the next time a storm rolls through your neck of the woods?
1. Start Rewarding Early
Quite a few pet parents make the mistake of only attempting to correct storm anxiety when a storm is happening. Instead of trying to reason with your dog while his mind is gripped by fear, start by rewarding calm behavior year-round. Try teaching your dog the command “settle,” which can either include having your dog going to a mat and laying down or having your dog lay at your feet. Some have found success with this practice while using a special “settle” item such as a leash, bandana, or vest. For this method, only practice the settle command while your dog is wearing your selected item. This tells the dog that when that item comes out, it’s time to settle.
2. Make a Safe Haven
Often, when dogs are feeling frightened during a storm, they will either run around frantically or will try to climb all over you. Cut this behavior short by providing your dog with a safe spot made just for them. This spot can be anywhere that is at least semi-enclosed. Ideal locations could include in a crate, under a desk, or in a bathroom. If your dog already has a location that it runs to when the weather starts to turn ugly then encourage the use of that space as your pet’s safe spot. Remember that the space should only be semi-enclosed, you want your dog to be able to come and go freely as a sense of confinement can often worsen storm anxiety. When preparing this spot, add a soft blanket, some of your dog’s favorite toys, and a water bowl to turn it into the ultimate storm-time getaway.
3. Functional Accessories
For some dogs, a snug fitting garment can drastically reduce their storm anxiety. You’ve probably heard of such products as the Thundershirt; these products provide targeted pressure along your dog’s body that may allow for your pet to feel more secure and at ease during a storm. The act of having a dog wear a snug fitting garment is often compared to the act of swaddling a baby – both acts work to calm and reassure the wearer that everything is alright. Try to have your pet wear it’s snug accessory a few times when there isn’t a storm present and treat your pet when it is wearing it. Having your dog only wear their Thundershirt or similar product while it is storming may lead to your dog associating the product with thunderstorms as opposed to calm.
4. Canna Companion Cannabis
Animals, like humans, can benefit from the use of cannabis. But, while marijuana can be beneficial for humans, it’s not ideal for pets. That’s why Canna Companion has created hemp supplement that will help your dog cope with its storm anxiety. No; Canna Companion hemp supplements will not make your dog high; dogs like humans, can receive multiple benefits from low-level intake of hemp. Cannabis helps support a normally functioning cannabis receptor system which kicks into gear during storm-related anxieties. By giving hemp during this time, the receptor system has more ‘ingredients’ with which to counter that anxiety.
When creating hemp supplements, Canna Companion uses specific parts of the hemp plant, namely the mature stalks and seeds, rather than relying solely on the flower of the cannabis plant. In addition, when multiple hemp compounds are utilized, e.g. CBD, THC, terpenes, flavonoids, etc., an increase in health benefits and a decrease in adverse effects are observed. Hemp supplements are fully legal and can be just what your pup needs to overcome its storm anxiety.
Make Your Pet Feel Safe During a Storm
Whether you decide to teach your dog to “settle,” make them a safe spot, wrap them in a snug garment, or help their anxiety with cannabis supplements. Remember you will not be able to correct your dog’s anxiety overnight. You can try combining these tactics until you find the right formula that works best for your pet. Each dog is different and will react to storms and your suggested coping mechanism differently.