Anyone who has survived a Phoenix summer knows that in addition to the heat, we have to contend with the rain, thunderstorms and dust storms associated with monsoon season. But while WE can quickly Google what to do during a storm, our furry friends cannot.
To them, a sudden thunderstorm can be frightening and confusing. It can also mean that your dog could do extraordinary things in their fear–like jumping a 6-foot-wall or even snapping or acting out against a family member. True story: I let my pup, Maya, out to potty at 1 a.m., not paying attention that it was starting to storm. As soon as I opened the door, she bolted out of it. Imagine me, in a nightgown – barefoot – chasing a dog from one end of the yard to the other. I looked like a football player just learning the ropes against a far superior opponent. I was able to get her back inside, but here are a few tips to help get you through monsoon season.
- Look for the signs. With my dog, Maya, I noticed that she would sit on the porch staring into the distance right before a storm hit. That gave me the heads up that I should keep an eye on her before the storm begins.
- Invest in a Thundershirt. No lie. After the aforementioned failed football player backyard incident, I went out to get one and it’s been a Godsend. She has barked once or twice during a bad storm, but then quickly settles down. Apparently, the snug fit calms many dogs. Be sure to put it on before the storm actually starts.
- Crate your pup. Dogs tend to feel safer in small, comfy spaces, and a crate can be a comforting space. Bonus points if you can put in a shirt or something that belongs to you to make your dog feel even more comfortable. Most pet shops also sell lavender or other soothing aromatherapy options for dogs, as well. In my experience, it’s best to have the crate in a spot away from windows so your dog isn’t distracted by lightning.
- If you’re the type to let your dog sleep in your bed, you may want to consider doing that on super stormy nights. Our dog doesn’t sleep with us, but we will let her sleep with our older son sometimes, especially when she’s feeling really antsy. Side note: Keep in mind that no matter how long your pets have been part of the family, it’s best to watch all pets around small children. At 50 pounds, my dog is what some call a “pocket lab,” but my 2-year-old isn’t big enough to push her heavy head off of him if he needed to.
If you’re still having storm-related anxiety issues with your pet after these tips, be sure to consult your veterinarian.