Written by Amy Hanchiruk
I would love think summer is close by but I can’t say when for sure it will arrive. What I can tell you is that with summer comes storms and fireworks! Along with those loud noises comes a whole lot of fear in pets.
Both my dog Tiny and myself were afraid of noises. We would do our best to take cover when those storm clouds started rolling in. It wasn’t too long after he moved to my house that we figured out that we shared this fear. The reality was that he helped me cope with my fear which in turn helped him cope with his own.
He was a farm dog who enjoyed spending most of his time outside. However, when the thunder started he would run into the bushes! I began to worry when he would do this and would brave the weather myself to go get him. Eventually what ended up happening is he would come find me before the storm and would be stick by my side which informed me of a storm approaching. He was everywhere I was at these times he would even jump in the car with me to come to work. I am not sure if he was worried for himself or felt he needed to support me and I felt I needed to worry more for him than myself. He had something to focus on and being a Border Collie (a breed prone to anxieties) I think that was his remedy to get himself through the fear. The distraction method seemed to work for us but for some that is not always the case. There are many different options available to help your pet in these stressful situations:
1. Give them a “safe spot”. Pay close attention to where your dog runs and hides when he’s frightened. Is it under the bed? Is it in the bathtub? Allowing them to have excess to these areas is important. Make it as cozy as possible. Have his favorite toys, bed, and doggy needs close by. You can sit by your pet to comfort them but one thing not to do is confine them to a crate. Most dogs that are afraid will try to escape and injure themselves.
2. There are products such as the “Thunder Shirt” available that will help them feel secure like a baby being swaddled. This is a comforting feeling to some dogs and may help reduce the stress for them.
3. Different calming diets and treats are also available; even natural remedies.
4. A distraction method can be used to keep them focused on something else. Try playing a game with your pet’s favorite toy. Don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t help, not all dogs will be willing to play or take treats when scared.
Talk to your veterinarian! There are medications and diets available to help your pet cope with anxieties. Your vet will also be able to refer you to a behaviorist who might help.
Just remember, like a little kid who is afraid of something, you shouldn’t force your dog to do anything that might scare him/her. People sometimes assume if a dog is constantly exposed to what frightens it, they will learn to co-exist with it. This is untrue and is termed “flooding”. It often doesn’t work and it can be inhumane. Your best resource is your trusted & experienced veterinary team!