My Dog Has a Thunderstorm Phobia

Your fun-loving golden retriever Murray thinks life is one big party. Murray takes every opportunity to romp and roll with his canine buddies, and he can hardly contain his excitement before his neighborhood walks. However, Murray’s happy smile goes away when he hears an approaching thunderstorm. When Murray detects a faraway rumble, he makes a beeline for the nearest piece of furniture. Since he can’t burrow under the chairs, Murray crouches under the dining room table. As the storm gets closer, Murray’s anxiety level goes up, and he scratches and paws at your baseboards. You’ve asked your Saint Lucie County veterinarian to help your dog overcome his thunderboomer phobia. Read more about some strategies you can try in the meantime. For more information on understanding and managing canine anxiety, see the article ‘Dog Anxiety Awareness Week Is May 1st to May 7th!‘.

Multiple Fear Factors

Poor Murray lives in a warm, sometimes-muggy climate that can lead to frequent thunderstorms. As a storm builds, Murray might feel the static electricity accumulation and barometric pressure shifts. The intense thunder and blinding lightning can easily make him panic. The howling winds probably aren’t calming Murray down, either. For an assessment of Murray’s overall health and potential anxiety issues, consider ‘Veterinary Diagnostics’ services from our clinic.

Help Your Dog Hunker Down

Perhaps Murray would appreciate a “safe haven” where the storm “can’t get him.” He might feel comfortable in an interior room, hearing music that partially drowns out the crashing thunder. Or, equip another small nook with Murray’s favorite blanket and some special toys. Give your frantic dog a choice of several refuges, and don’t try to confine him. You don’t want to raise poor Murray’s anxiety level further.

Clothing Coping Mechanism

Maybe you’ve considered the snug-fitting doggie wraps and sweaters that supposedly help panicked pooches reduce their over-the-top stress levels. While there’s no guarantee the clothes will work, they’re relatively cheap, so they might be worth a try. Get your vet’s opinion, though, before you spring for one of these unconventional items.

Breeds Prone to Storm Anxiety

Any dog breed can fall victim to a thunderstorm phobia. However, herding breeds, including border collies, have more than their share of storm anxiety problems. Good thing Murray doesn’t have separation anxiety or another fear-related problem, as this would also increase his risk for thunderstorm terrors.

Also, while some dogs panic over thunderstorms, they can sit and watch fireworks displays without being bothered at all. On the other hand, some dogs become gripped with fear over any noise that makes the decibel meter.

When the storm’s booming and flashing, keep Murray focused with a familiar obedience command, such as “Sit-Stay” or “Down-Stay.” While Murray calmly sits or lies at your feet, give him lots of ear scratches and belly rubs. When Murray next visits his Saint Lucie County vet, you can report that Murray is making progress in handling his storm phobia.

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