April showers bring...freaky dogs
By Janie Lackman | April showers….bring freaky dogs, oh yeah, and May flowers…right? When I was little, I used to love a good thunderstorm. I remember sitting out on my grandparent’s porch in the big swing and watching the rain. I still love the sound these days but only on my sound machine. The real sounds of a storm make me cringe because it means a freaky dog episode.
That’s right, my precious basset hound, Elvis, is afraid of storms. I’m not just talking a little bit antsy, no, I’m talking about a full blown meltdown-anxiety-attack-reaction. So what can caring dog lovers do to help our pups when the storm is approaching?
1. Rescue Remedy* is an herbal calming solution that may either be placed in your dog’s water dish or administered with a couple of drops into the mouth. I’ve found that if I am able to give this to Elvis prior to a complete meltdown it helps her to cope with the stress of the pending storm. However, if the storm is already here and she is drooling heavily and pacing this may not be an effective solution. Rescue Remedy may be purchased online or at local stores for anywhere from $10-20 a bottle.
2. Crate Training. The benefits of crate training are numerous but to be honest I was never a big fan until I saw it’s benefits with storms. Once Elvis was comfortable with the crate it provided her with a safety zone that is hers alone.
The one thing that I found when Elvis is running around the house scared by the storms outside is that I actually have to remind her that the crate is her safe place and close her into it. She will go almost everywhere else in the house to hide from the storm but I actually have to help her find the one place that does provide safety for her. Typically, this helps her to settle down and relax (well not really relax, but calm down significantly).
If the storm involves lots of lightning, it is also a good idea to cover the crate so the effect from the flashes is diminished. Turning on some calming music or the TV as a distraction is also helpful for the really wild storms, that is if you still have power.
Depending on the size of your dog a crate may cost $40 and up. Elvis started her crate training at the age of 8 so it is never too late to give it a try.
3. Thundershirt. The Thundershirt uses gentle constant pressure through a closely fitted wrapped shirt similar to the concept of swaddling with an infant to help alleviate the anxiety. With some dogs the effect of this is immediate and dramatic. With Elvis, I’ve found that this helps her state of mind and may still be helpful even if the storm is already in progress. It does not, at least for Elvis, provide a complete solution to the issue.
Thundershirts may be purchased locally at pet stores or online for about $40 and the manufacturer does offer a money back guarantee if it doesn’t help with your dog so there really isn’t any reason not to at least try this one.
These 3 things typically help us muddle through most of the storms of the season but on those really crazy storms sometimes we just stay up all night together and sleep in the next day.
It is truly funny at my house during storms, Elvis is having her basic freaky episode and Harvey, my chow chow, is usually sitting out on the screen porch enjoying the show that nature is providing.
What unique personalities our dogs possess.
*A word of caution, as with any new medication or even herbal remedies, please consult your vet prior to using.