Dogs and Thunder
It’s called Strom Phobia and our pup suffers from this horrible affliction here in Puerto Vallarta during rainy season. We always know when a storm is brewing because the pup starts the panting/pacing ritual that precedes thunder and lightning. Pup seems to want to be on top of us, or maybe inside of us (!) and has been known to get stuck in tight places trying to hide from the noise, once behind the toilet, which nearly required dismantling to get him out. We’re very fortunate to have always been with him when these occasions strike and have never dealt with destructive behavior but we know others not so lucky. It’s not unusual for pets to go absolutely berserk and tear up furniture and break through doors and windows, especially if left alone. Many dogs become physically ill. It’s not nice to witness but it’s even harder for the one who suffers. Unlike us, they are well aware of an approaching squall, caused by barometric pressure changes, low frequency rumbling and static electricity. It’s been theorized that some dogs even experience terrible pain from shocks caused by static buildup preceding a tempest.
Herding breeds, such as collies, corgis and shepherds seem to be more of a nature to be affected than other classes of canines. Similar responses are associated with gunshots and fireworks. Retrievers seem to be the least likely to be bothered but they’re not singled out and have been known to have distress, as well.
What can you do if your dog is terrified in stormy weather? It’s extremely important to not scold. Just like humans, scolding doesn’t change behavior; in this case it will probably make your darling even more anxious. The best advice is to practice calm behavior during normal weather. The most successful strategy is to get the dog to forget about the storm, using toys, fetching, petting and treats, but storms can last awhile so having a longer term plan is more effective. Use an indoor leash and train Fido in a routine with commands and with the use of a safe space. This space might be a crate or an interior room, such as a bathroom. If s/he already goes to a certain spot in the house, set that area up as the safe space but don’t confine him/her there; this can lead to panic and destruction.
Play soothing music, but don’t turn up the volume to drown out thunder.
Compression garments such as the Thundershirt® or Anxiety Wrap® might be a good idea and we know of some pet owners who’ve had great success with them, the same as swaddling a baby. Storm Defender® is a metal fabric-lined cape that has also proven to work for some dogs, protecting them from static shock.
We always talk to our vet here in Puerto Vallarta to get up to date advice and make sure we are doing the right thing by the pup. The veterinarian tells us to make sure we reward calm behavior in times when there are no storms.
Que es cómo es.