A lot of dogs are completely terrified of thunderstorms, and, because they can sense the change in the barometric pressure, they often sense a storm approaching before you do. Some dogs become extremely anxious during severe weather, and resort to destructive behaviors like chewing, pacing, excessively panting, and barking.
1. Safe Room
Establish a safe area where your dog can go 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. Think of it as your pet’s personal storm bunker. He will know that he can go there whenever he is uncomfortable with the weather and that he will be safe.
2. Keep Doors Closed
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 ability to escape by making 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 to run away during the storm.
3. Try a Thundershirt
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 gentle pressure to your dog, similar to swaddling an infant, the Thundershirt works to calm them down and reduce their anxiety. Get your own Thundershirt here!
4. Don’t Overly Coddle
Making more of an effort to soothe, cuddle, and coddle 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. Note: You should obviously never punish your pet for being obsessive or clingy during the storm. This is not bad behavior that they are doing on purpose. Be supportive, but not overly obsessive to their needs.
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! Get your tug of war on with this fun toy that you and your dog will enjoy! Get your own awesome rope toy here!
6. Control Your Own Anxieties
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.