Dogs are great companions. They play with us, they protect us, and they are friends to us. Dogs depend on us, however, for their food and shelter needs. Did you also know that dogs have fears just like humans?
What is a dog’s biggest fear? Certainly each individual dog has different fears, just like humans, but dogs hate loud noises, especially thunder! So how can you help your dog to cope when a thunderstorm is passing overhead?
Tip #1: The most sensible thing to do is to find a safe place for your dog to go to when a thunderstorm rolls through. Pay attention to what your dog does when thunder is booming. Does he try to get behind the couch? Make him a comfortable place there. Is your dog scratching to get inside the house? Let him in and keep him company. Your dog will let you know where he feels safest when thunder is rumbling. All you have to do is watch where he is trying to get to. Wherever that place is, make it as comfortable as possible for him and allow him to come and go as he pleases. Make sure you discuss it with mom or dad to make sure it is alright with them.
Tip #2: Do not put your dog’s safe place outside! Dogs can be terrified of thunder and will do anything to get away from it! If your dog is outside when the thunder starts he may jump the fence or find a way to squeeze through the gate. Now your dog is lost, maybe for good. You don’t want that to happen, do you?
Tip #3: When you are scared don’t you feel better when your mom or dad is there to keep you company? Your dog is the same way. When you talk to him use a happy, playful voice. Stay upbeat! If you try to baby-talk your dog this will reinforce his fearful behavior. By staying upbeat, happy and playful your dog may find his confidence during this time of distress.
Tip #4: Distract him. When the thunder starts and your dog begins to get antsy play a game with him, or begin some other activity you know your dog enjoys. This must be done as soon as your dog alerts to the noise. If you can keep his attention, great. Keep it up. If you can not hold his attention and he shows signs of distress (if he starts to show he is scared) then you need to stop and allow him to go to the safe place you have made for him.
There are things you absolutely should not when your dog is frightened of thunder (or anything else):
– Do not punish your dog for being afraid! He is already scared. Punishing him for something he has no control over will only make it worse, and it is not fair to your dog!
– Do not put him in a cage or carrier. He may be so frightened that he might try to escape the cage and injure himself trying to escape, possibly severely.
– Do not ignore your dog’s fear! Your dog is your companion and your friend. Do what you can to help him get over it.
These are only a few ideas on how to help your dog deal with thunder storms. Ask your mom, dad, or other adult relative to contact a veterinarian for more tips on how to help your dog cope with thunder. Your dog will love you for it!