If you’re a dog owner, you may be dealing with your dog’s storm or noise phobia―which is probably why you’re reading this article. Canine storm phobia, also known as canine noise phobia, is a condition in which certain noises―such as fireworks or a thunderstorm―cause a dog to become fearful. If you’re new to the world of canine noise phobias, this guide will give you a basic run-down on some of the different approaches used to manage a dog’s fear during a thunderstorm.
Help! My Dog is Afraid of Thunderstorms
Owners should keep in mind that there is absolutely no way to guarantee that any noise or storm phobia can be treated or fully resolved. However, Holly Nash―a veterinarian for the Doctors Foster and Smith’s Pet Education website―states that many noise phobias can be managed successfully.
Canine Fear of Storms: Keeping Your Dog Calm
One important piece of advice for all dog owners is to remain calm. Your dog can sense your mood, so if you’re stressing out or you’re becoming irritated with your dog, it will only make your dog more stressed.
Furthermore, don’t encourage your dog’s fearful behavior. While you’re not intending to do any harm, coaxing your dog or trying to calm her can only enforce her belief that the storm or noise is something to be feared.
Canine Noise Phobia: Change the Environment
One trick for dealing with a canine noise phobia is to alter the dog’s environment. For example, look for ways to reduce or block out the noise. This can include simple steps like turning on a TV or creating some type of white noise, such as having a fan on. Some dogs may benefit from having a cotton ball in each ear to reduce the noise; though owners should be careful not to push the cotton ball into the ear canal―which can result in permanent damage or an infection.
Other ways of changing the dog’s environment include increasing physical activity on the days where a storm is expected. Simply by tiring your dog out, he is more likely to sleep through some or most of the storm without any issue.
Lastly, many dogs benefit from some form of shelter or ‘safe haven.’ This could mean giving them a create or allowing them access to a bathroom or another small room in which they can “hide” from the noise or the storm. However, you should avoid closing your dog into the room or the crate; which can actually worsen stress.
Dealing with Canine Noise Phobia: Create a Positive Experience
Every dog has a favorite toy or treat, so you can use this to your advantage. Save your dog’s favorite toy, treat or even a special game for when a storm is occurring. This helps to distract your dog and create a positive experience; which can help your dog realize that a storm is nothing to be afraid of.
Anti-Anxiety or Anti-Stress Medications for Canine Storm Phobia
If the above-mentioned techniques don’t work, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about providing your pooch with an anti-anxiety or anti-stress medication. However, you should keep in mind that some medications must be given daily―which can feel like a nuisance to some pet owners. If this is a potential issue for you, be sure to ask your veterinarian if there are other options for your dog which can be administered before or during a storm, such as Alprazolam.
Whatever approach you choose, be sure to stick with it―your dog’s storm phobia will not be cured overnight. It may take months, weeks or even years before your pooch begins to feel comfortable during a storm.
Roseville Vet: Storm and Noise Phobia in Dogs
Pet Education: Fear of Thunderstorms, Fireworks and Noise Phobias
Weather.com: Dog Care: Dogs and Thunderstorm Phobia