Veterinarians in southern Arizona can always tell when the monsoon rains are coming by the questions from pet owners regarding storm anxiety in their dogs. Storm phobias are very common in many dogs and can worsen as pets get older. Symptoms include panting, drooling, whining or howling, restlessness, clinginess to their owner and destructive behavior.
Multiple management strategies are available for storm phobias and every dog responds differently. Some will calm down by simply turning on the radio, being placed in a small room or crate or being wrapped in a blanket or security vest.
Others need counter-conditioning to learn how to be calm during the stimulus of thunderstorms. This involves planning ahead when the weather is calm. The first step is to teach your pet to lay calmly in a designated bed or area of your home. Positive reinforcement is used, including treats and verbal praise, for short periods of time, slowly increasing the period of time. An audio recording or video of a storm can then be played while the pet remains in their calm area and while continuing the praise. When done correctly and with patience, this can be a very effective training tool for a variety of unwanted behaviors in our pets. If all else fails with training at home, anti-anxiety medications are often prescribed.
If your pet is anxious due to storms, we would love to help. Call Valley Verde Veterinarians for an appointment at (520)393-7387.