Remember the old song I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbit? Who doesn’t love to hear the thunder or watch the lightning streak across the sky? Many people think the sound of a thunderstorm is a cleansing sound.
But that’s us. Our puppy can often suffer from anxiety and panic attacks when bombarded with a sudden barrage of crackling lights and booming thunder. Neither of which he has had a chance to get used to during his short life.
A bad thunderstorm can cause a puppy to tremble, or hide behind the couch or under the bed, or he might whine continuously. He doesn’t understand weather. And he could continue to panic even after the noise has stopped. A thunderstorm comes with a myriad of things that can cause the dog to worry: thunder vibrating the house, people looking worried when the lights flicker, changes in barometric pressure, and a darkened sky.
Luckily, there are things we can do to help alleviate the anxiety our puppy could be suffering.
Some tips and tricks
It’s not always recommended, but some veterinarians will prescribe an anti-anxiety or sedative for your dog. You can fall back on something like Xanax or Tramadol, but it would be better if you used a number of other methods before resorting to prescription drugs which come with a host of side effects.
The first step is to understand the signs your puppy is giving you that the storm frightens him. If you don’t get a handle on it earlier, his anxiety could get progressively worse. He might hide in his crate, sit or lie next to his favorite person, pace around, drool excessively, whine or bark, shake, or try to squeeze into a tight-fitting area.
Your puppy is going to feed off your energy. If you are scared, he is going to be scared. Reassure him. Keep your voice low and steady and try to maintain your normal routine as if nothing is different.
Some puppies respond well to desensitizing training. Play thunderstorm noises that you can find on YouTube. Turn the volume up loud enough that he’s reacting to it. Give him a treat. Slowly build the volume over a few weeks and continue to provide positive reinforcement and feedback.
Distraction can work as well. Put a television program with the volume up a little louder than usual. Hide some peanut butter in a Kong chew toy. Put some music on.
Swaddled infants are calmer than those that are not. Try this with your dog as well. There are several products made to provide him with comfort in anxiety-inducing moments. You can find dog anxiety vests on Amazon, including Thundershirt, cattamao, and Mellow Shirt brands. Wrap your pup in a blanket and see if that helps. You might even let your puppy get up on the bed with their favorite toy.
These tips can also work for dogs suffering from anxiety caused by fireworks. Remember to keep an eye on your puppy. Be there for him during this scary time. But with a little preparation, there is nothing that should prevent you and him from loving a rainy night.