Summer has finally arrived, and though we can all rejoice in the days of sunshine and heat, sometimes it's not quite as simple as that. Yes, unfortunately the hot weather comes accompanied by the occasional thunderstorm.If you own a dog, you'll know that your four-legged friend doesn't cope too well with loud noises, and the crashing of thunder and flashes of lightening certainly aren't going to help.
In fact, some pups may become seriously damaged from this experience: broken teeth, fractured claws and broken limbs are not uncommon when dogs get spooked.With this in mind, we've put together a list of things you can do to relieve your dog in the stormy weather:
The best way to combat a dog's fear of thunderstorms is by acting early to ease his anxiety. Do not ignore it, as it will only get worse over time."Most of the time they don't grow out of it on their own, and many will get worse with time if nothing is done", says Matt Peuser, vet at Olathe Animal Hospital in Kansas.
It is a mistake to try and console a dog who is scared of the thunder, as this only encourages the fearful behaviour.Instead, it's best to practice and reward calm behaviour throughout the year, such as getting him to settle on command. This helps create a routine for the times when he gets scared.
Surely one of the best methods to calm your dog is by keeping him distracted from the moment when he starts getting nervous. When the loud noises begin, try to involve him in doing something else - playing ball and practicing commands are good distractions.You can reward your pup with treats for his attention to the game.Though it may be difficult to hold his attention throughout the thunderstorm, this should at least postpone his anxiety. Once your dog starts to get fearful, do not continue as this may accidentally encourage this kind ofbehaviour.
It can help for your dog to have access to a place of safety, far away from the scary noises. Let your pup pick a place himself where he is comfortable and can hide when he's frightened.It's also a good idea to play him some music or use a fan to help distract him from the noisesoutside.But it's vital that your dog has the choice: there's no point forcing him to stay somewhere when he doesn't want to be there.
Though it's best to first try and find other solutions to his behaviour, sometimes they just don't work. In this case, get in touch with your vet to see what you can do to help.He may be able to offer your pet medication to soothe his anxiety in the short-term. Nobody else should prescribe medication to your dog, and over-the-counter medication should never be used without first consulting a vet.Above all, never punish your dog for being afraid. If his phobia gets really bad, consider seeing an animal behaviour specialist for further advice.