The hot and humid summer weather can often bring with it thunderstorms. While no big deal for you, thunderstorms can seem like the end of the world to your dog. Trembling and drooling in some corner of the house, unsure if they will survive, thunder can cause even the bravest of dogs a great deal of fear and stress.
Thunderstorm phobia is much more common in adult dogs than in puppies. Usually, this fear develops around 3 or 4 years old. Symptoms include trembling/shaking, pacing, sweating through paws, drooling, panting, accidents in the house, barking/whining, and trying to “escape”.
But there’s a lot you didn’t know about how thunderstorms are effecting your dog. Here are 4 facts you should know about dogs and thunder phobia (and how you can help).
1. Why Are You Hiding in The Bathroom?
Ever wonder why your dog tends to burrow behind your toilet during a thunderstorm? The porcelain actually helps to cut down on the amount of electricity in the air. How smart! The static electricity buildup can feel uncomfortable and be frightening to your dog, especially if they are a heavier-coated breed.
2. Thunder Shirts: Do They Work?
Thunder shirts have been quite successful in soothing dogs during a thunder storm. The compression of the shirt helps to relieve anxiety. There are a variety of thunder shirts out there, even some that have a metallic lining that helps to discharge static electricity buildup during a storm.
3. Reinforcing Fear
When your dog is trembling and drooling and hiding in a corner somewhere, your instinct is to want to comfort them, right? I was always told never to comfort your dog when they are acting this fearful, as it will reinforce the fear. Luckily, I was too much of a softy and could never adhere to this because, as it turns out, you can’t actually reinforce fear in dogs. It is totally acceptable to provide your nervous pup a little love and comfort. It will not cause their fears to worsen or reinforce their actions in any way.
4. Natural Anxiety Relief
There are plenty of natural remedies you can try to soothe your pet during a thunderstorm. Homeopathic remedies, essential oils and medicinal herbs are all great options. There are even sprays and collars you can purchase at any pet store that are calming. Each dog tends to respond to different approaches, so you may need to try a couple over time.
If considering essential oils, be sure to read up on how to safely introduce essential oils to your pet first.