Is Your Dog Afraid of Storms? | Dog Training – Greenville Dog Training

Is Your Dog Afraid of Storms? | Dog Training - Greenville Dog Training

Calming Your Dog During Bad Weather


Recognizing Fear

Is your dog afraid of storms? Have you noticed them acting nervous even before bad weather comes? Usually there is a pretty recognizable change in their behavior if they become uncomfortable from the sound of thunder, rain, hail, or heavy wind. But did you know that they can actually sense a storm coming and even feed off of your energy if you’re fearful too?

If you yourself get panicked during thunderstorms, you’ll definitely want to address that anxiousness before attempting to train your dog to remain calm. Of course you don’t need to fully overcome this fear beforehand, but learning ways to calm yourself down will be very helpful as your dog looks to you for comfort.

Breathing techniques, meditation, or yoga are great places to start.


Environmental Change

Dog’s natural instincts allow them to sense when a storm is approaching. Similar to a variety of different animals in the wild, even us humans. When they sense this change in the weather, they’re going to try and seek shelter. You may see your dog find a spot under the bed, or go to their crate, somewhere they feel safe within the house.

Heavy breathing, whining, and shivering are all common visual indicators that your dog is becoming anxious due to the environmental change.

Just like all aspects of training and life in general, building a trusting relationship with your dog is important. You want them to look to you for comfort during fearful times. If you tell your dog to go lay down, you want them to be able to trust that you know it’s safe enough for them to remain calm.


Self Coping

Teaching your dog self coping mechanisms will help them feel safe not only when they’re with you, but also when they’re not. If you’re stuck at work or your dog is at the sitter while you’re on vacation and they have to sit through a thunderstorm, we want them to be equally as comfortable with or without you present.

You may use commands like “place” or “lay down” while trying to communicate to your dog that the situation is safe, but it doesn’t mean their brain or body is relaxed. Just like if we as humans began to panic because we got stuck at the grocery store during a severe thunderstorm, getting home would be a bit of a hectic adventure until we were safely under our own roof.

However, it’s important to remember that you don’t want to discipline your dog’s reactions to rational fearful moments like these, but be able to help them turn their mindset around into a state of comfort.


Lightning, Thunder, Lightning Storm, Storm, Energy

Calming Methods

Similar to a human deep tissue massage, your first calming method will be massaging your dog. You’ll want to begin doing this on days when the weather is nice and bad weather isn’t on the radar. This is going to help them understand how to differentiate between feeling tense and feeling relaxed.

Getting deep into the muscles will be key here. Begin by rolling your thumb around those muscles you can physically feel are tense, commonly in the shoulder area. A lot of times, just like us, our dogs are tense without realizing it. You won’t have to wait until they’re anxious to work out some kinks. Imagine it feeling like a hard boiled egg at first, you want them to feel like jello after.

Your dog will likely get up and walk away from you, roaming around the room to stretch a little bit as deep tissue massages can be a bit painful. Eventually they will come back to you with the intent of, “Okay, do that again please.”

Once their muscles start tensing up due to their reaction of being scared, they’ll begin to recognize what you’re doing as an effort to calm them down. So, if your dog appears visibly tense during a storm, accompanied by heavy panting, drooling, shivering or clear signs of agitation, you can use this method.


Dog, Dog Sleeping, Kelpie, Blue Heeler, Working DogLivability Commands

If you haven’t yet taught your dog “place” or “lay down”, we break down common livability commands in one of our other blogs, which you can view here.

When practicing these commands, be sure to reward your pup according to their Love Language. This can be either with treats, a toy, works of affirmation, or physical attention like petting. This way if your dog ever begins to regress with their training, you can remind them what you want, what behavior is acceptable, and re-reward them.

Seeking Professional Help

Always remember to consult the help of a professional if you feel like training methods you’re using aren’t working for your dog. If your dog happens to be medicated during storms, we want you to know there is an option for them not to be and their behavior can be molded into understanding when to trust your instincts as their owner, that they’re in a safe environment.

As pet owners, we can get easily discouraged when we feel like we try our best to help our dogs train to be well mannered family members. But sometimes it takes the resources and guidance of a professional to make a difference, so don’t be afraid to reach out!




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