Storm Stress? Five Hints to Soothe an Anxious Hound

Category_Anxiety Category_Dogs Category_Informational Category_Rain Category_Training Writer_MaryBeth_Bittel

Sparky Steps - Storm Stress? Five Hints to Soothe an Anxious Hound

Storm Stress? Five Hints to Soothe an Anxious Hound

The Midwest can truly be a mixed bag of weather-related spectacles. Here at Sparky Steps, our dog walkers understand this firsthand. A single Chicago season might include everything from sudden windstorms, to driving rain, to thundersnow. Humans can prepare themselves – but when it comes to our prized pups, it’s tough to explain rough weather in advance. And if your dog is afraid of loud noises, even a brief summer squall could provoke a full-fledged canine panic attack.

Fortunately, there are sensible steps you can take to help soothe, reassure and safeguard your furry friend. Don’t forget, summer storms are a common occurrence in Chi-Town! So read on for five of our team-tested tips.


Explore Calming Remedies

Got an anxious dog? When the weather outside is frightful, you can often coax a deeper sense of calm without prescription pharmaceuticals. The Thundershirt, for example, uses the age-old principle of swaddling to interrupt the feedback loop between your dog’s brain and respiratory system. During a panic episode, breathing can speed up significantly. This swaddling effect provides a gentle, sustained “hug” that can help ease breathing back to normal. It’s the same dynamic that lulls swaddled babies to sleep. You can also check out collar-based products (like the Sentry Calming Collar), which are infused with pheromones that may help modify stress-related behaviors over time.


Consider Acupressure

For canine stress-reduction, try a simple solution called acupressure. This therapy was developed over 5,000 years ago, and remains closely aligned with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It basically involves gentle yet precise finger placement along energy points (meridians) on the body. In fact, your dog has a relaxation point called Heart 1 (HT 1). It’s located in the center of the front armpit crease, about halfway between the front and back. When you’re giving your dog a tummy rub, try lightly pressing your fingers on this point, breathing calmly, and holding for 10-20 seconds. Doing this regularly may gradually help your canine feel calmer overall.


Research Herbal Solutions

Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets is a mix of flower essences. Yep, you read that right — and while it may sound a bit dubious, various Bach flower remedies have been used to help calm humans and animals for more than eight decades. It’s always wise to check with your vet before administering anything orally, though Bach remedies have a reputation for being fairly gentle on the system. You can try adding one or two drops of this special calming formula to an anxious pet’s daily drinking water.



Do loud sounds like thunder panic your pup? Try desensitization therapy. Obtain a recording of that stress-inducing sound. Make sure you can control the volume manually. Start by playing it at a very low level in front of your dog (you may need to secure him on a leash at first). Tell you canine to “stay,” then pour on the reassuring praise when he complies. While you’re at it, offer a few tasty treats. Keep these reaffirming sessions short, especially at the beginning. Practice periodically, and gradually turn up the sound over time.


Make Identification Easy

Don’t forget, skittish pets may try to bolt during a storm. So in case you get separated, ALWAYS make sure tags and microchips are up-to-date with current contact information. Of course your best bet, by far, is always keeping a nervous dog safely secured indoors during wild or stormy weather.

It’s also important to remember that high winds and heavy rains can alter familiar neighborhood scents. Since dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell, stay close by your canine’s side if you’re both outside—even well after a storm subsides. Taking just a few conscientious measures can help your beloved pet “weather” any rising fear, while providing priceless reassurance.


Written by Marybeth Bittel



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