5 Ways to Help Your Dog Through a ThunderstormPublished July 28, 2010
Show that storm who's boss with a few simple steps that will make you and your dog feel at ease.If a loud clap of thunder is enough to send you a few feet in the air, imagine how your dog feels.
Long before his hearing amplifies the threatening booms, he senses a static electric charge in the air, building to levels large enough to produce lightening - and making him seem like a psychic weather-predictor.
Unfortunately, he probably expresses those predictions with panting, pacing and trembling.
So show that storm who's boss with a few simple steps that will make you both feel more at ease.
1. Stay Calm
Keeping your cool is imperative if you want your canine to feel better, notes certified animal behavior consultant Darlene Arden. "You don't want to inadvertently telegraph anxiety, or you're going to make things much worse for the dog," she says.
Turn yourself into a calming presence by taking a deep breath and relaxing with a good book. If your pooch's anxiety manifests in destructive behavior, maintain your composure. Yelling will only make things worse.
2. Static Relief
In an attempt to escape the discomfort of the static electric charge in the air, thunder-phobic canines often seek relief in grounded objects like the bathtub or toilet.
A similar effect can be achieved with a special storm cape that's made with a metallic lining. When wrapped and secured around your pet, it neutralizes her fur and limits discomfort. Or, in a pinch, veterinary neurologist Dr. Susan Wagner says you can sit your pet on a rubber mat and rub her with a dryer sheet.
3. Calming Music
Research shows that calming music can have physiological effects on anxious dogs. "It's not just about screening out noise," says Dr. Wagner, who coordinated the research for the book, Through A Dog's Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion.
"It trains the brain waves and the heart rate and allows them to be physically calm."
4. Lavender Essential Oil
Aromatherapy isn't just for humans. Calming scents can soothe your pooch too.
Dr. Wagner recommends pure therapeutic grade lavender essential oil. "It has to be pure essential oil, not just a smelly, synthetic perfume," she says.
Put a drop in the palm of your hand and rub it down your dog's spine from the top of his head to his tail. If you don't notice a change in his demeanor, wait three or four minutes and try again.
After three tries the dog will be as calm as he's going to get. "In most dogs you'll see a definite effect," explains Dr. Wagner.
5. Anxiety Wraps
Anxiety wraps use maintained pressure to invoke a sense of contentment. Just think of how a newborn is pacified after being tightly swaddled in a blanket.
Arden recommends familiarizing your pet with the wrap long before the storm. "You don't want to suddenly yank this out when she's panicked," she says. "Start getting her used to it and tell her how great she looks." If you don't want to buy a wrap, a tight-fitting t-shirt might also do the trick.