Storms can happen any time of the year in Australia. It’s estimated only 5-10% of all Australian thunderstorms are severe. However, just as some humans have a fear of thunderstorms (astraphobia), rain (ombrophobia), or hurricanes and tornados (lilapsophobia), dogs can also have a fear of the impending thunderstorm as it approaches.
The effects of this fear can range from your dog getting over-anxious and doing serious damage like running into furniture or hurling themselves into walls and windows. Or the less concerning reactions such as refusing to go outside, or once they are outside, escaping their safe environment and becoming lost or hiding in various places throughout the home.
There are many theories on why some dogs have this fear. According to National Geographic Magazine, anxieties may be related to the barometric pressure dropping, or the noise and smells that come with a storm approaching. There are also theories that the increase in static electricity makes our dogs uncomfortable because static radiates through a dog's fur. No matter the reason, it’s hard to rationalize this fear with your dog.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to alleviate the fear they might have. Here are a few to try on your dog at the next upcoming storm:
1. Prepare in advance for the storm.
If you know there are chances for thunderstorms, take your dog for a walk or exercise before the storm hits. This gets them out to enjoy the outside and do their business but also wears them out so hopefully, they can sleep easier when the time comes.
2. Watch your own behavior.
We all know most of our fur-babies take their cues from us. If you feel anxious, this will affect your dog as well. Be sure to stay as calm as you can, and take time to soothe your pet.
3. Give your dog a safe place during the storm.
This could be their crate, the basement or an interior room with music playing. This would help avoid hearing the noises of the storm. If you aren’t sure where to let your dog go during the storm, your dog will help you decide. Follow their cues whether it is the basement or the laundry room, most likely with their favorite bed.
4. Try the snug garments
The newly created Thundershirts were built with anxiety in dogs in mind. The idea is based on a swaddling concept similar to what the parents of newborns do for their new babies. When you put on your dog’s Thundershirt as tightly as possible, most say they have seen results.
5. Reward, reward, reward
We all know our dogs love treats, toys, and love. Shower them with what you are comfortable with when they behave as you had hoped during the storm.
Hopefully, now that the storm approaches, your dog and you will be prepared to enjoy it, rather than be stressed by it.