The various methods used to calm down a dog are medication, massage, crate, entertainment, scent oils, swaddling. These ways help the dog who is under stress or is terrified due to external conditions.
Thunderstorms, fireworks, construction noise in your environment can be a nightmare for your dog. This problem is more severe if you’ve got a sensitive dog. The noise and the atmospheric pressure can be really tough on your dogs.
As the seasons change from winter to spring to summer, thunderstorms, fireworks, and other loud noises become a problem for otherwise calm and carefree dogs. Many dogs suffer from Astraphobia, and abnormal, persistent fear of thunderstorms according to Medicine.net. Astraphobia can increase anxiety levels in dogs, exponentially.
We’re going to talk about some solutions for that problem here today. We’ll be talking a little bit about things in the environment that you don’t have control over. Dogs will have trouble with things like thunderstorms and fireworks.
We, as pet parents often wonder why our dogs are so afraid of loud noises such as thunder, fireworks, and gunshots even.
The main reason for this level of anxiety is due to their acute sense of hearing. They can hear often two times as much as humans can.
Dogs are also more sensitive to changes in the atmosphere, static electricity, and barometric weather changes. Thunderstorms often bring these changes along with loud rumbles, lightning flashes, and crackles, as well as the house shaking or windows rattling.
Because these atmospheric changes contain large amounts of static electricity as well as barometric pressure changes, this causes discomfort to a dog’s already sensitive ears.
With thunderstorms, there could also be hissing, high-pitched sounds, or crackling that human ears cannot pick up.
Because of these factors, it can cause high levels of anxiety and fears that we humans are unaware of. Think of dog whistles, they can hear them when we cannot.
How to Calm a Dog During Thunderstorms – Buddy’s Story
Buddy was a normal, fun-loving, loyal border collie mix. He had spent most of his life in a small, confined area of his home. Buddy could be excitable and sometimes a little rambunctious, but he was a loving family dog. One day, things changed, and his unnatural fear of thunderstorms reared its head.
While his family was out for the day, a thunderstorm came through the area, and when the family came home, Buddy had made a mess of his living area.
As the thunderstorm rolled through, Buddy had become terrified and frantic, trying to dig his way to safety causing his paws to bleed.
He chewed through a door, ate part of a wall, and chewed up cushions from the furniture. By the time his family had found him, he was terrorized, traumatized, and injured from his attempts at escaping the storm. It took him several days to be himself again.
Buddy’s previous owner kept him locked in an outhouse/shed with a metal roof. Locked in the structure, he had no way to get away from the rain pounding on the metal roof, hurting his sensitive ears and became afraid of thunderstorms.
This is one example of an extreme reaction that not all dogs will share.
Why are Some Dogs Afraid of Thunder Storm?
Aside from the sensitivity of their ears, professionals like veterinarians or animal behavior specialists are not sure which parts of a storm cause the most stress to dogs.
Some believe it could be the flashing lights, the loud clapping noises, the atmospheric pressure changes or something entirely different.
Although many dogs can worry and freak out with any changes to their home environment, others are more sensitive to sounds. It could be that dogs have sensitivities to storms, fireworks, or loud noises.
All dogs differ, what bothers one may not affect another. It’s important to help alleviate your pup’s stress when such things occur.
There are many theories, but no certainties with dogs. There are different aspects of storms that can lead to anxiety and stress in your pet.
Factors of Storms That Can Lead to Anxiety
The most common aspects of storms that can cause your dog to be nervous or stressed include the following.
- The loud booms and rumbles of thunder
- The crackling or electric charge of lightning
- Dark, ominous looking skies
- Feeling the storm roll in, especially if outside
- The smell of rain or scent of the storm nearing
- High or howling winds
Dogs that already exhibit behavior such as separation anxiety can be more prone to having phobias of thunderstorms.
Behavioral therapy with professionals is great for helping eliminate canine anxiety issues. The best way to help with your dog’s phobia is to take action before the storms roll in.
How to know if your dog is afraid of a thunder storm
There are many signs you can be aware of that will clue you in as to whether your dogs are afraid of thunderstorms or not. Keep an eye out for these signs:
- Excessive panting and running around the house.
- Trying to hide in a tight space or underneath something.
- They cannot relax or calm down even when being cuddled or petted.
- The pup tries to go outside to escape the noise but wants back in immediately after.
As in Buddy’s case above, severely frightened dogs may tear up the house or harm themselves trying to escape the thunderstorm. This is only in extreme anxiety cases.
There’s a lot of good solutions that you can use just in your own house to help your dogs be more comfortable.
The following tips will help you keep your dog calm when exposed to loud noises like thunderstorms or fireworks. It’s best to adapt them to your pet’s personal needs as all dogs react differently.
Proven Ways to Help Calm Your Dog With Anxiety
1. The Use of Pheromones
The use of Pheromones to calm your dog is highly recommended since Pheromones are naturally emitted by dogs during social situations.
Depending on their intentions, Pheromones emit different responses. They are natural, odorless, and cannot be seen nor felt.
Pheromones include sex, food, calming, and alarm. They are automatic responses and some calming pheromone has been created synthetically and is available for purchase. Such synthetic products can be used in a diffuser to help calm dogs.
The reason this works is that by emitting a low level of the pheromone constantly, like an air freshener, has been shown to calm dogs during these stressful situations.
2. Catching Your Dog’s Attention or Focus
Depending on the level of anxiety your dog has toward storms and loud noises, you may still be able to get them to focus on you instead of their attention being on the noises.
Consider giving them something else to get their minds off the noises such as their favorite toy or a treat that they love. If you keep their minds active, they will decrease their focus on the storm or noise.
3. Give Them Medication
Be sure to consult with a professional before administering any medications to your dog. A veterinarian will know the proper medications to give your pet for their phobia.
Luckily, there are a variety of anxiety medications that your vet can prescribe for your dog. But keep in mind, most vets will only prescribe medication for severe anxiety cases to help stop them from hurting themselves due to the terror they experience at storms and loud noises.
Aside from medications, your vet can refer you to behavioral specialists and explain how to desensitize your dog to such traumatic experiences. these treatments are often used together.
It is best to use caution when giving your dog any prescription drugs as many are sedatives to help short term, but once the current problems are over, they may have the same trouble the next time.
These are just a temporary fix, consult with your vet to make a plan on how to help your dog in such stressful situations.
In many cases, the medication should be considered as a last possible resort. These other tips can help without expensive and possibly dangerous medication.
4. Massage Your Dog
Perhaps, this could be one of the best methods of de-stressing your pet during storms. Just like humans, dogs enjoy being pampered, and a massage is right on the top of their fun-time list.
The major muscle groups on your dog are the cheeks, face, neck, forehead, and shoulders. Consider giving them a relaxing massage in all of these areas.
Massaging such muscles has proven to be a good way of calming them from storms or loud noises.
Place your fingertips in the proper areas, then apply pressure, and use circular motions when massaging your dog. Don’t forget to speak softly and soothingly to them while performing the massage.
5. Use The Crate
The first one is crating and you should definitely get a crate if you don’t already crate your dog. We highly suggest that you do look into crate training them which will help your dog when he is worried or concerned with the loud noise in the environment.
A crate is like a den to most dogs. They really feel secure with it. There’s nothing behind them and they can see a clear opening.
If you have a dog who’s concerned about noises in the environment, creating a nice little cave or den for them can be really helpful.
You can even take a plastic crate as it is and cover it up with a blanket in order to have only one opening. That way, there’s no concern on your dog’s part about things coming at them from the sides or from behind. They’ll feel much more secure inside that crate.
6. Use Various Entertainment Channels
Our next suggestion to help dogs is dampening the outside noise. You can do that very simply by setting up a radio close to them. Put on a radio, put on a TV for some ambient noise.
Entertainment stuff like this can reduce outside noise and keep your dog busy. There should be some Dog TV channels on Youtube which are dedicated 24×7 for your dog’s entertainment.
We highly recommend that they’re in a crate or something which makes them feel like they’re in a den.
Our third suggestion is swaddling. Swaddling means to wrap or put on a tight t-shirt. There are commercial products available too, the thundershirt comes to mind.
You can actually give the dog a nice big hug. It’s sort of like the concept of swaddling with a baby, it’s very comforting to them. The same thing can be said of dogs.
When dog is worried about noises in the atmosphere, a hug is another tactic that you can certainly try .
8. Using Essential Oils
For extreme cases, you can get good results using essential oils. There are products in the market that you can use to have a calming effect with their scent for the dogs.
Do your research and make sure it’s meant for dogs and it’s not going to be harmful to them.
Usually, a dog store or pet store near you will have some product that falls into this category.
Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks?
1. Fireworks are Loud and Scary
Thanks to their more sensitive hearing, fireworks startle our dogs and hurt their ears. Especially if the fireworks are loud and make screaming or popping noises as many do.
2. They Happen Without Warning
Your dog is laying down sleeping or relaxing and suddenly someone starts to shoot off loud fireworks. they happen without warning, unline thunderstorms, so to dogs, the loud scary noise has interrupted their relaxing evening at home with the family. Is it any wonder why they are often afraid of fireworks?
3. Fireworks Can Be Seen As A Threat
It is not unusual for dogs to show signs of anxiety when they hear fireworks go off. Because fireworks are sudden and unexpected, not to mention loud, dogs may think they are a threat to their safety. When dogs feel threatened, their fight or flight response comes forward.
4. They Feel Trapped
This reaction goes hand in hand with the above one. When a dog feels trapped, their fight or flight response comes naturally and pushes forward.
5. They Feel Vulnerable
Feeling the fireworks may jeopardize their safety with no way out, dogs can feel vulnerable. This may be the simplest answer to the question.
Other Actions You Can Take to Help Calm Them
- Close all windows and doors. This also helps to muffle the noises that storms or fireworks are making. Be sure to disable doggy and cat doors also.
- Try bringing the curtains inside to muffle noises.
- Believe it or not, turning off the television can also help calm them, it’s one less noise they have to be exposed to.
- Play soothing and gentle music, as it helps to calm some pets. Experts believe that classical music works well, but keep in mind what type of classical music to play. Some can cause more anxiety for your dog.
- Do not act anxious or nervous yourself. Dogs can pick up on your emotions easily.
- Some professionals believe that you shouldn’t look at your dog or show them any signs of your emotions at all.
- Simply go about your business as if nothing is happening outside, this includes not over-cuddling with them.
- Never yell or punish them for being scared or nervous.
How to Calm a Dog During Fireworks – Two Case Studies
Sasha was a young Husky and Shepherd mix who escaped her yard due to a fireworks display. Upon noticing, her family was frightened and made the decision to keep her indoors during any firework displays in the future.
To help distract her from the noises outside, they left all their lights on and played some music loudly to drown out the booming.
During the next fireworks display, Sasha was much calmer and not stressed.
Midnight was an 8-year-old lab mix that feared all loud noises Her owners wanted to help her eliminate her fears. the local fireworks display would be arriving soon, so they decided to play loud noises and firework sounds on CD to help with desensitizing her from the noises.
It took some time, but within a few months, Midnight had shown positive progress toward being cured of her phobia.
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Conclusion on How to Calm Down a Hyper Dog
It can be hard to watch our furry family members go through such traumatic experiences as loud noises and scary phobias. We want to help our furry family as best we can to eliminate such stressful situations.
By following the tips we’ve outlined here, you can help your dog get through these situations without harming themselves or becoming destructive.
Remember, do not get angry or upset with your dog when they show signs of fear and anxiety. You must also remain calm yourself to help them through such terrifying events.
While you may be tempted to baby them, it’s better to distract them with another activity and even let them hide somewhere safe if they choose to. Forcing them to change their behavior will not help them at all. They must do it at their own pace.
Always consult with a professional on how to handle your dog’s phobias, they will know the best treatment for your pet. No pet reacts the same to loud noises or storms, so adapt these tips to fit your pets personal needs.
In very extreme cases, you might consult your veterinarian and talk to them about some prescription options.
If your dog is really panicked during thunderstorms or fireworks, just have something in hand (treats etc.) that you can give him which will take the edge off and can be a lifesaver for him.