Storms and fireworks: Soothing your animal’s fears

August 28, 2023

They’re an inevitable part of summer, but what can you do when your dog is terrified of storms and fireworks?

Dogs can’t process unpredictable situations in ways people can, which means that unanticipated events can upset them and provoke abnormal behaviour. Noises caused by storms and fireworks can make your pets bark or yowl, run to a hiding place or even urinate. This can, at least in part, be explained by the fact that your animal doesn’t recognize the origin of the sound nor understand its prolonged duration. 

What can you do?

There are several things you can do to help calm your animal’s fears. Try distracting them during a storm or burst of fireworks. And remember to close windows and doors to distance the noise. If your animal reacts by hiding, don’t try to stop them as this is their mechanism for feeling safe. Let your pet hide but watch over them closely and make sure that they can’t escape. Don’t scold them; instead, let them calm down in their own time. Finally, hugging your animal isn’t a good way to reassure a companion animal as they are likely to interpret this as approval, which can in turn reinforce the behaviour.

How to reduce your pet’s anxiety?

There are several ways to reduce your animal’s fear. It’s important to familiarize your pet with varied situations, starting at a young age. To get them used to thunder and storms, play them short clips on YouTube. And repeat occasionally to reinforce the message. If you know when a storm is coming, exercise your pet beforehand. Taking them on a long walk will help lower stress and let them relieve themselves.

If your animal continues to react to storms and fireworks in problematic ways, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian for assistance.


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