Some dogs just do not like thunderstorms. And they like to express this by barking. Many times, dogs become completely inconsolable while the thunderstorm persists. For dog parents, this can be extremely stressful.
But don’t get too frustrated. They are just doing a good job of trying to protect us from the bad angry thunder gods who are obviously trying to kill us. Or, to use science, they get terrified by the crashes of thunder and feel a spike in anxiety after sensing changes in air pressure and static electricity.
Whatever the cause of your dog’s storm anxiety, it can result in many dog parents becoming sleepless in Seattle (and other rainy places). If this sounds like you, you need a system to help calm down your dog so both of you can get some sleep.
Here are a few innovative solutions that will help you do exactly that.
1. Swaddle Your Pup in a Snug Little Jacket
Thunder jackets are amazing. These “anxiety wraps” surround your pooch with calming pressure — kind of like wrapping a baby in swaddling clothes. In fact, this kind of constant, gentle pressure has been shown to release a flood of calming chemicals in the brains of both dogs and humans. According to ThunderWorks (a leading manufacturer of doggie thunder apparel), 80% of dogs and cats respond well to this treatment, and many show results during the very first usage.
2. Give Your Dog a Spa Day With Aromatherapy
Lavender oil can help dogs calm down when incorporated into a massage or spray (however, it is not safe for kitties!). Try rubbing lavender oil behind your dog’s ears and on their skin. Combine water and a few drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle, then spray the mist on your dog’s bedding. Use lavender scents during training to create an association between calm behavior and lavender, and when a storm hits, the anxiety-reducing effects of lavender will be even more powerful.
3. Desensitize Your Dog With Prerecorded Thunderstorm Sounds
Much like exposure therapy, the idea here is to gradually accustom your dog to the sound of thunder while they are calm, increasing the volume slowly over multiple sessions. When a real thunderstorm arrives, the hope is that they’ll be desensitized to the sound and have a milder reaction. An audio recording can’t simulate changes in barometric pressure and electric fields, however — if those are the aspects of thunderstorms that bother your dog, this might not be the solution for you.
4. Explore Antistatic Options
For many dogs, it’s not the sound of the thunder that creates their anxiety, but the buildup of static electrical charges around them. Dogs with longer coats are particularly sensitive to these changes. To combat this, you can try a static-reducing paw spray or a jacket with an antistatic lining. Many antistatic jackets also provide the calming pressure mentioned earlier, making for a great two-in-one solution.
5. Ask Your Vet About Medication
There are many effective options available, like alprazolam for general anxiety and Sileo, which is specifically approved for canine noise aversion. Some owners get the best results by coupling medications with a nonpharmaceutical treatment, like a thunder jacket, for maximum results in reducing their dog’s storm anxiety.
Always Create a Safe Space
No matter what solutions you try, also remember that your dog needs an accessible safe space (like a familiar crate or snuggled next to you in bed) for when thunder hits. Although it might not be our idea of a cozy sleep, dogs sensitive to static electrical charges might feel most comfortable curling up behind the toilet or in the bathtub.
Experimentation is key to figuring out which treatments will work best for your dog, and don’t be afraid to try out some combinations — just because your dog is wearing a thunder jacket, doesn’t mean you can’t also rub some lavender oil behind her ears!
It can be difficult to stay relaxed when your dog wakes you up at 4 a.m. on a work night. But it’s important to stay calm because (in case you didn’t already know) dogs catch your vibes. When you stay relaxed, you encourage your dog to calm down too, making it easier to give them their medicine or put on their antistatic jacket. With the right attitude and a bit of preparation, you’ll be back to sleep in no time.