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Hiding under the bed, soiling the carpet, destroying furniture, dogs resort to these behaviors when they hear thunderstorms. The booming loud noise of thunder is threatening to dogs, and the fact that they are unable to understand it only makes it worse. Regardless of how intense these fear reactions are, do not ignore it, as it is causing stress and psychological damage in your pet; it may even worsen with time. Here are some ways you can help your dog stay calm during loud thunderstorms.
Creating a comforting place
The first step is to create a cozy and comforting place for your pet to recoil into when he/she is scared. Dogs inherently look for a hiding place when they are scared. Arranging for the same will help ensure that they have somewhere to withdraw into when they feel threatened. You can choose a place that your pet is already fond of or feels safe, such as the bathtub or the underside of the bed. Place a cozy blanket so your dog can snuggle and be comforted. You can also place your dog’s favorite toys there, so he/she has something to distract himself/herself with while the thunder sounds. Treats (earned treats) help associate the thunderstorms with something positive, and can help your dog overcome some of the fear associated with it.
Calming your pet
Some suggest that you play loud music to drown the noise of the thunder. This may not be the best move, as hearing loud music against the roaring thunder may intimidate your pet even further. Instead, try playing something gentle and soothing, even if it means that your dog can still hear the thunder over it. Speak to your dog in a calm voice while comforting him. It is natural that you are anxious and worried for your pet, but you do not want this to show through in your voice or actions. Your dog easily picks up on these cues, and may turn more restless when he/she senses the anxiety in your voice. Do not comfort your dog more than you usually do, or he/she will freak out thinking there is something seriously wrong. You want to use a calm, reassured tone, and be your usual self around him/her, with a little bit of comforting, of course. Some pet owners use Dog Appeasing Pheromone Diffuser to alleviate stress during thunderstorms and fireworks. You can even distract your pet by playing with him/her, and keeping him/her busy.
Sometimes the measures above may not help in calming your dog, and he/she may need sedation or medication to calm the nerves. Contact your local vet so they can evaluate the condition and decide if your pet needs prescription medication for the same.