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Q: Storm phobia: what should I do?

March 7, 2009 | By Kelsey S. | 23 answers | Expired: 1955 days ago

Kelsey S.

Last spring, my Annie decided that thunderstorms were terrifying. This came when she was six years old and with little history of the fear (she never liked being outside in thunder, but was perfectly fine inside). I was hoping she would forget her fear over the winter, but no such luck. She is begining to make my other dog scared of storms as well. What should I try to reduce her fear?

She doesn't care a whit about tapes of storm sounds. The one place she finds any comfort - and she still will not stop pacing during a storm - is upstairs in the double-insulated bedroom, but that is off limits because of Dad's allergies and, more importantly, a Motherly Decree that is not going to change anytime soon.

Any suggestions?

EDIT (3/7): Thank you for all of your answers. I can't wait to try some of your ideas. I'll let you know if I notice anything helping! Keep up the great suggestions. :)

Readers' Answers (23)

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Mindymont
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Mar 09, 2009

We also have a dog that is scared of storms. We let him be during a storm. He likes to hide behind the couch so we let him get back there. We go about our business as usual and don't make a big deal out of it. If we are going out and it's supposed to storm, we will put him in his crate so that he doesn't get stuck anywhere. We tried Rescue Remedy but it didn't work. Our vet prescribed medicine but we haven't used it. Would prefer not to medicate if we don't have to.

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Robin W.
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Mar 08, 2009

Ever since my Golden Retriever was about 8 she has been afraid of storms. Her whole body shakes, she pants heavily, tries to hide behind/under things, and won't sit still. I've tried many things including drier sheets and Comfort Zone Spray but didn't notice a difference. I prefer not to use meds too often, but occasionally I give her Diazepam which the vet prescribed - it helps a tiny bit to take the edge off but needs to be given 1/2 hour before the storm to be the most effective. Probably what works the best for her is to go down to the basement where it is cool, dark and insulated better from the noise and static. Turning on a TV or radio while down there will also help. Last night we had lightening and thunder. When we were watching TV upstairs it drowned out the noise somewhat and that seemed to help. I did give her Diazepam before bedtime but after about an hour she still hadn't settled down so I went to the basement with her, threw down a comforter and she laid down and slept. I think all of these ideas are worth a try because every dog is different. However, I think the best solution is a combination of them. There's something about going to the basement that seems to help my dog the most. However, I've never tried leaving her there by herself, so I'm going to start taking her down there when it's not bad weather so she gets used to it and will work on making it a 'safe, happy place' for her.

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Barbara R.
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Mar 08, 2009

I've had two thunderstorm phobic dogs. You can try to get them used to the sound by playing a tape of a thunderstorm at low volume and gradually make it louder. But this is a hard problem to fix and even this doesn't work in most cases. I talked to my vet and he gave me tranquilizers that really do help although I hate the drug route. Best to administer before the storm arives.

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Deetzyweetzy
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Mar 08, 2009

My Border Collie was TERRIFIED of storms. When I first got him, he was an outdoor dog. I made him stay in the garage, even though it was obvious he was terrified. Eventually he became a house dog and the best place he could be during a storm was in bed with me. I would lay on my back and he would be next to me under the covers with his head under my arm. That helped to keep him calm and I know it helped him feel secure. I think security is what all of our animals need when they sense a change in barometric pressure or an electromagnetic field. They sense those changes better than we will ever be able to figure out.

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Audrey M.
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Mar 07, 2009

I'm going to just add my experience here. My dog just last year began showing anxiety during storms, I didn't coddle her knowing that would make her think something was wrong. I carried on as though nothing had changed and just chatted with her a bit more - she seemed to ease out of the discomfort and probably gets a little more cuddly at storm time. I'm hopping this year will go better she's 7yrs now. There must be something to do with the age!

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Lori D.
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Mar 07, 2009

You should comfort her. She may find thunderstorms less scary if you tell her it's okay. Show her that it's okay.

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Lynne D.
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Mar 07, 2009

Molly is also leery of storms. She is a border collie and I think she senses storms through static electricity. We can tell when a storm is coming because she retreats to cool tile or linoleum. Toys don't help and petting doesn't help. She just wants to be left alone until the storm passes.

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M M.
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Mar 07, 2009

Please go to stormdefender.com and read about this great product. The animal psychologist at Florida Veterinary Specialist told me about it. I bought one for my male Lab and it has helped tremendously. I think the product is in the zootoo.com database.

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Margaret  O.
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Mar 07, 2009

For starters, I would suggest a flower essence combination remedy called Rescue Remedy. There are also homeopathic remedies that would help your dog. Phosphorus is a main one that comes to mind. You would really need to consult a homeopathic veterinarian to fine tune exactly what remedy would work best for your dog.

Best wishes.

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Pat T.
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Mar 07, 2009

One of my previous dogs had a thunderstorm phobia. The vet prescribed valium, and this really did help him. I kept an eye on the weather channel and more often than not, could get the pill into him in time for it to counteract the fear reaction. He became more tolerant of the storms over the years because of the medication. He also had a crate in the basement. We began by putting him in there in the dark during the storms, but later he would ask to go in and he stayed in there with the grille open, coming out when it was over and he felt calmer.

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