In recent years, our weather has been changing quickly, and the transition from sunshine and 37°C to lightning and heavy rain can be a strange time for dogs and cause them to feel unsettled and behave differently. Dogs may be fearful and anxious during lightning due to its unpredictability, dark skies and loud claps of thunder; which all contribute to feelings of fear.
Ensure You Are Remaining Calm
If you are feeling uneasy or tense, your dog can pick up on this. Make sure you are calm and try to adopt a neutral, rational attitude. This will translate to your dog and help them feel safe and settled.
Be Careful To Not Reinforce Fearful Behaviour
Whilst it may feel natural to console your dog and fuss them when they’re fearful, you could actually be unknowingly reinforcing the behaviour. Distract them with playing indoor based games such as fetch or give them some kind of chew to help keep them occupied.
Create a Safe Place
If your dog has a crate, move it into the quietest room in your home to create a space for your dog to go if they are feeling overwhelmed or unsettled by the sound of the lightning. You can also move your dog’s bed into the quietest room and this will provide the same kind of comfort as they aren’t as directly exposed to the noise. It’s also worth providing some extra blankets and closing the curtains or blinds so your dog isn’t constantly being stimulated by the weather outside.
Play Calming Music
Combatting anxiety inducing noises from the outside world can be a good way to help calm an anxious dog. There are playlists online which feature songs and pieces of calming music for dogs, or you could turn on the radio/television or white noise. This can help cancel out the noise of the storm and create a more soothing, calm atmosphere.
Contact Your Vet
If you feel that you’re struggling to manage your dog’s anxiety, it’s worth contacting your vet and chatting to them about your concerns. There may be some herbal or medicinal remedies that they can advise you on, or they may need to run tests to rule out any health issues that could be contributing to your dogs behaviour.
The sudden shift in weather can be unsettling for us at the best of times, and our pets are no exception. But understanding what causes this behaviour and how best to manage it means we can support our dogs and soothe them where possible to keep them as comfortable as possible in fear inducing weathers
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