Why do I turn into big sissy when I think it's going to storm? Last weekend, I was out for a nice walk with my friends and there was a slight hint of rain, but nothing looked threatening. I started to get all tense and shivering. Then the rumbling thunder started and I really got scared. They rushed me home and I headed straight to the bathtub because I felt safe there. This is uncomfortable for me and it is uncomfortable for everyone else, too. What should I do?
It is not uncommon for dogs to have a fear of storms and thunder. Sometimes the nerves stand on end when there is extra-high energy in the environment. That could be something simple like you and/or your people getting a little fritzed out by the drop in barometric pressure due to an impending storm.
Be aware that fears can turn into downright phobias. If you hear a little roar of thunder and start destroying the door to the bathroom just to take shelter in the tub, you should probably confess to your friendly veterinarian. If your fear of thunder grows into a fear of rain, you have likely developed a phobia and are in need of professional help.
A few tips for your people to help you through a storm:
• Arrange a safe place for you. In your case, they could put a soft blank in the bathtub with your favorite soft toy and a bowl of water nearby. Animals who become fearful will head for their own idea of a safe place.
• Play soothing music or turn up the television to help disguise the sounds of the storm.
• Between storms, your people may choose to try a desensitization tactic by playing a recording of thunder or fireworks, very softly and for short periods of time, while reassuring you that you are safe and loved.
• Visit canismajor.com/dog/thunder.html for more information on desensitization and other tips.
Rainy days can be soothing once you learn to overcome your fears. Try to look forward to a lazy day on the couch watching TV or listening to some nice music. You can do your exercises later when the storm passes and all is calm.