Even though it is not a huge problem for most cat owners, those of you who own a dog can probably relate to the topic I refer to today: the stress and anxiety your dog goes through during a thunderstorm or fireworks.
My parents’ dog is highly prone to stress whenever a thunderstorm is near. He tends to be so scared that he hides in the most odd places (he really likes the space under the office table, where all the computer cables run). It is so painful to watch this cutie suffer an irrational fear that I decided to do some research on that topic. I found some really helpful tips that may also help your pet.
1. Be With Your Dog
This one seems like a total no brainer for most of you. Being with your furry friend is already calming. But do you know how to treat it in these special situations? Here is the answer: You should definitely not punish your pet whenever the fear appears. It will probably be even more scared as it will link the thunderstorm, the fear and your punishment, which will then result in even more fear. But doing the opposite and being extremely nice and rewarding it with treats and excessive stroking is also not a solution. By behaving in that way, you keep telling your pet that the fear is legitimate and you even reward it for its stressful behavior.
So, the first tip is to just stay calm and be there for your pet without exaggerating the treats. Show that thunder and lightning or even fireworks do not mean that the end of the world is near. Just try to ignore the circumstances and behave like you do any other day. This is the most basic rule and will probably help young dogs not to develop this bad habit. But unfortunately, there are many dogs whose fear is so primal that this tip alone is not enough to keep your dog stressfree.
2. Special Music
Keep the blinds closed and turn some music on. This way the terrifying sounds will be reduced in volume and may loose their fright. When I asked my vet about it, he told us that dogs react to certain kinds of music. After some time of research I found a special cd recorded for the purpose of calming stressed dogs. It is called ‘Through a dog’s ear‘ and contains a playlist of soothing music by Bach, Mozart and similar artists. These tracks are chosen by a veterinary neurologist and a psychoacoustic and recorded by a concert pianist. Studies proved its effectiveness: 85% of the tested household dogs showed reduced anxiety and increased calmness when listening to these compositions.
But there is one very important reminder: Please remember that dogs have way more sensitive ears than humans. So do not turn the volume too high trying to drown the thunder out. A moderate volume will do its job.
3. Dressing It Up
Something rather new on the market but already massively popular: the ThunderShirt. The concept is based on the principle of swadding a human baby to calm it down. The slightly tight fit of the garment provides support for your dog and makes it feel more secure and snug. While recommended by peta.org as the most effective solution, I have never tried it on my parents dog. Luckily steps 1 and 2 were enough to calm him down. If that was not the case for our dog I would definitely give this product a try!
I really hope these tips will help your furry baby to stay stressfree during the next thunderstorms and/or fireworks. If those tricks do not work out when you use them seperately, a combination of all three should lead to success.
I keep my fingers crossed that you will find the perfect solution!
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