Spring thunderstorms can be scary for all of us, including our pets. Here are some tips on how to keep your pup calm. Please follow safety guidelines and only apply these training tips if it is safe to do so. If you are not sure, check with the National Weather Service for storm information.
*If your dog has serious storm anxiety or a fear of thunderstorms, seek professional help from a behavioral veterinarian or professional trainer.
What You Should Do
Rushed energy with no direction from humans translates to our dogs. If your energy is rushed, your dog will become anxious and confused. This can lead to unwanted behaviors such as leash reactivity, barking and lunging.
Slowly begin working with your dog in public spaces and around distractions, your dog will have an easier time knowing how to behave. If you are calm and relaxed around your dog, your dog is more likely to adopt your demeanor.
If you stay calm, it will help your puppy stay calm. The energy you put out will be mirrored by your dog.
Go Outside (When It’s Safe)
When conditions are safe outside, bundle up and go with them to show that it is no big deal to be out in the weather. You will be thankful later when they will go outside without an escort.
In fact, if you have a puppy, we highly encourage you to walk and play in the rain with them.
In Severe Storms, Wait for a Break
If there is heavy rain, wind or lightning in the area, check the radar and wait for a break in the storm to take your pup out for a bathroom break.
Keep them on a leash in case they get startled and go with them.
Remember, if you are trying to get your dog to go outside, but you don’t want to go with them, they won’t want to go either.
Play a Game
What You Should Avoid
If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, it’s important to monitor your own behavior and avoid doing the following:
When a storm is rolling in, try not to get nervous or panic. Dogs look to us on how to react to situations. Turn on the tv or some music and show your dog that thunder is no big deal.
This one goes against all our natural instinct, but remember, when your puppy is scared and you are trying to “comfort,” they learn “I’m being good, being afraid is what my human is praising.”
When a Puppy Hides from Thunder
All of us can be startled by thunder, but when a puppy is startled, sometimes they run and hide. Instead of leaving them under the bed or in the corner, call them out with treats or a toy and redirect them to play.
Conquering the Fear
When your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, reflecting on what we are feeling and how we are responding to our dog is a great first step.
Awareness followed with action and a little push to be out in nature more will help your dog start to conquer their fear of thunderstorms.
Prevention is always the best tool, but focusing your attention on how you react to storms, you can help your dog get over their fear of storms.
*If you’ve tried all of these things but it’s still not working out, you can always contact us to inquire about hiring a professional trainer.