How to care for Fido when lightening strikes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2012

It’s Fido’s biggest fear, no not the neighborhood cat or running out of milk bones, but the dreaded thunder storm.

At the first sign of dark clouds everyone is getting nervous.

Companies have made millions of dollars selling products promising to calm and sooth Fido during a traumatic storm. I have seen everything from all natural calming drops to a T-shirt that is magically going to calm him down when he wears it.

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Taking time to train and desensitize him is the only long term fix.

The most important thing is NOT to console your frightened dog during a storm, which is probably your first reaction. Resist the urge to cuddle your dog and become his protector.

If you hug your dog each time he runs to you when he hears thunder and say, “It’s okay, it’s okay”, your dog will assume that you will always be there to protect him. If you act like he needs protection, he’s going to assume he does need it.

Additionally, your dog is going to think you are praising him for being afraid. If he learns that cowering in the corner during bad weather yields hugs and kisses, it form the habit of doing that every storm or any other time he feels uneasy.

You may even try using a CD or iTunes download of thunderstorm sounds to help desensitize Fido to the sound of thunder. Play it at various time of day, starting with the volume very low.

Turn it up louder and louder as he gets used to it. Remember, this will only partially desensitize him, since the CD can not recreate the entire feel of a storm.

If your dog is young and just starting to experience storms you have a huge advantage. Simply act like there is nothing going on and just act normal. If Fido sees you acting like usual, he is going to assume everything is fine, and will act according to that. This will also work during fireworks.

If his anxiety level is too high that he destroys the house trying to find refuge from the storm, starts spreading his anxiety to other dogs in the house, or starts causing physical harm to himself, ask your veterinarian about having a sedative on hand.

With a little effort and some time, Fido will be calmer and more confident.

Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.


Tony and Kate Barker are certified pet groomers who own and operate The BARKer Shop in Ironton. For questions, call 740-534-0088.