Dogs v. Thunderstorms

Perhaps, April showers bring May flowers but June brings thunderstorms. Big booming soakers designed to get the water the overpriced seedlings in your garden need to grow into the anemic little vegetables that you will savor every bit of in August.

Thunderstorms are good

Unless you’re a dog. And, even worse, if you are a rescue dog with pretty significant abuse history. And that is our situation with Maggie. That’s her up above. She is the sweetest dog in the world and was the target of abuse by some especially vicious little bastards.

It also appears that Maggie has the canine equivalent of Autism. She isn’t capable of reading intention from other animals or people, she has some repetitive patterns, she has no concept of other creatures feelings or how they might react to her.

And she is sensitive to noise

A breeze rustling tree’s leaves will send Maggie scurrying to find me or Lisa or one of our other dogs, Beulah or Nyla. Thunderstorms send her shivering into spasms of fear. Fear so paralyzing that she can’t move. As more and more people rescue dogs this sort of behavior is becoming more common.

So, I thought I’d give you a few tips on how to help your pup if that becomes an issue for you. I got these from

  1. Establish a safe area where your dog can go to when he’s feeling uncomfortable during the storm. A kennel with the door open or a small, comfortable room would work well. Ideally it will be a small area that blocks out light and noise.
  2. Dogs can become spooked very easily during thunderstorms, and have been known to run away in panic after hearing the booming thunder and seeing the lightning. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to escape. Make sure all doors and windows are closed. As always, make sure your dog has up-to-date tags at all times, in case he does find a way out.
  3. Although the name would suggest that it is only intended for thunderstorms, the Thundershirt actually helps to calm a number of different anxieties in dogs. By applying a gentle pressure to your dog, similar to swaddling an infant, the Thundershirt works to calm them down and reduce their anxiety.
  4. Making more of an effort to soothe and cuddle your pet may do more damage than good. They will pick up on the fact that you think something is wrong and will start to get anxious. You should simply be a calm and strong force that they can go to for support.
  5. Try to distract them from the scary noises and lights outside by getting them interested in a different activity. Play a game with them, throw a ball, or break out a new toy. If you do this enough, they may develop a positive association with storms because it means more attention from you
  6. Dogs can and will pick up on your nervous energy if you are showing any. Try to remain calm and collected during the storm and it will help your dog calm down too. Talk to them in a happy and calm voice, and laugh whenever you can.

Remember that you will get through it and so will your pup. The best thing you can do is stay calm and in control.

Good luck!


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