Storm season is here and with it a huge number of our fur babies are suffering from storm phobias. These range from the mild (panting, shaking and hiding) to the extreme (panic, escape and destroying the home).
We have outlined some Do’s and Don’ts for helping to manage this stressful problem.
- If possible, make sure your pet is not alone during the stressful event.
- Create a safe and secure environment for your pet. This might be a darkened room where lightning flashes will not be noted or a windowless indoor room where sound is muted. If your pet has self-selected a hiding place, do not try to forcibly remove them. This is not helpful and may result in an aggressive response.
- Try playing music that is loud or has a strong beat or some type of white noise (such as an exhaust fan) to muffle the outside noises that cause the distress.
- Playing with familiar toys, engaging in games, or practicing obedience may help to distract the pet.
- Use of a head collar and leash may offer additional control and can be calming for some dogs.
- If you have pretrained your pet to go and settle on a mat, bed, or other location, use this strategy to help calm the pet.
- Punishment must never be used since it will only increase rather than decrease your pet’s distress.
- Encouragement, praise, or fostering are not helpful either as the pet may interpret them as rewards for the behavior they are performing at the time.
- Don’t panic. Try to remain calm yourself. If you are calm, it will help your pet.
If these tips don’t solve your pets problems give us a call and arrange a consultation. We can give you information on how to start desensitisation and counterconditioning exercises to help your pet cope better with the next episode.
If all else fails medication can be a useful adjunct for very distressed pets. We may prescribe an “Event medication” to give your pet at least 30 minutes prior to the stressful situation occurring. However some severely affected dogs may need to be prescribed daily medication during storm season or for other noisy periods like holiday fireworks.