Summer Behavior Problems: Thunderstorms and Firecrackers How to help your panicked pooch!

Summer Behaviour Problems: Thunderstorms and Firecrackers
How to help your panicked pooch!

The sounds of summer can be very scary for many dogs. Rain, thunder, lightning, firecrackers can make many dogs whine, cry and scramble for a place to hide. Some dogs will be so afraid that they will scratch and do anything to “escape”, potentially causing damage to the house and/or, more importantly, to themselves.

It is one of the most common behavioural problems seem in dogs but the cause is not clear. The pets can be reacting to the sounds, the flashes of light, the wind or even the rain. Some dogs seem to sense the storm coming and start to get upset ahead of time perhaps sensing the drop in air pressure.

It is hard to prevent the development of fear as some dog breeds seem to be more prone to the problem (AAHA, 2001). However, if your young puppy starts to show some anxiety, it is best not to reassure or cuddle them, as it can reinforce the puppy’s sense that there is actually reason to be afraid. Do not punish the behaviour either as your dog will associate the punishment with the storm, thereby increasing their level of fear when the next storm happens.

Signs that canine friend has already developed the phobia:

  • Hiding under bed or in small closets
  • Barking, whining or drooling
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • Sweaty paws
  • Trembling
  • Destructive behaviour at exit points(chewing door frames, scratching, ripping curtains) at exit points
  • Attempts to escape house
  • Aggression

What can you do? Talk to your vet!
The veterinarians at Markham Veterinary Clinic want to help. There are several possible treatments. We can help you devise a way for your puppy to become gradually desensitized to the sounds using positive reinforcement. It is absolutely essential that this behavioural modification be done very slowly and in a way that does not increase your pooch’s fear in any way. It is also important to create a “safe” place for your dog to go to when they are experiencing their anxiety. This safe place can be in a padded crate or perhaps a bed under the stairs but it must have an opening or way to get out so your dog causes no problem to himself trying to escape. In addition, there are several anti-anxiety medications, nutraceutical supplements and even turkey based therapeutic diet that can be prescribed to help reduce the fear your pooch feels during these scary times.

If your dog is showing these signs, please call Markham veterinary Clinic, serving Markham, Unionville, Stouffville and Pickering at your earliest convenience!

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