Summer heat and humidity usually means thunderstorms are not far behind. As I sit here, the third one of the day is passing by. For some reason my 6 year old dog started reacting to thunder three years ago. It never bothered her before, so I am not sure what happened. Darcy gets herself worked into such a frenzy and can even sense them when they are still far off. She gets very clingy and pants. When the storm hits, she runs into the kitchen, gets into a corner and starts digging like mad at the floor.
My goal as her mom is to make her feel as comfortable as I can. My coddling her and making a fuss over her reaction would just add fuel to the fire. When I first experienced Darcy digging at my floor I realized she was looking for a den of sorts to curl up into, making her feel safe. I tried to see if she would like being in the crate with a blanket over it, but that did not help. Then one day, instead of running into the kitchen, she ran into the hall to the garage and curled up into a teeny ball. That is when the lightbulb came on. I opened up the closet next to the door, moved some shoes, put a piece of scrap carpet down, asked if she wanted to go into her safe space, and I had found my solution! So now when I know storms are coming, the second Darcy starts to pant I ask her if she wants to go to her "safe space". She runs and waits in front of the closet for me to open the door.
Because of Darcy I started to experiment with products that were supposed to calm your dog. I honestly never really found any early on that worked to my satisfaction, even Rescue Remedy did not help. Recently, hemp based products came to market and I was lucky to have found the best & purest one out there to sell in my store. After a storm passed it used to take Darcy about 30 minutes to come out of her safe space. Now, once I know a storm is coming I will give her a dropper full of the hemp oil. It does not make her 100% but she is not shaking like a leaf in the closet, she lays in there calmly, and as soon as the storm passes she comes right out. I admit I use a very low dose on her and one day I need to see if a higher dose would work better, but for now I am very happy with the results.
When I travel to dog shows I have also started to use a product called Heavenly Hounds. I discovered that product in March at a trade show and bought a box to try. My first experience with it was on a Sheltie who came into my vending booth. That Sheltie freaked out over something that fell, got its leash caught on a cooler and they both took off running. Once the dog was caught I let her try a square of the Heavenly Hounds. It took no time at all and the dog was calm as ever. Now that Shelties mom gets them from me on a regular basis. I also carry a package with me as a back up in case I dont have the hemp oil handy because they are small enough to carry in your purse or training bag.
The other product I found at the trade show is called Pet Remedy. It is made in the United Kingdom and mostly I was interested in it because it was safe to use with birds. I have a psycho Cockatoo living with me, but that is a story for another blog. Needless to say she started plucking her feathers and I could not get her stop. The plug in diffuser is perfect in the house to keep her calm and her feathers have started to grow back. I am sure it is helping the dogs out too, but aside from storms, they really dont have any other issues.
I hope some of these ideas help if your dog experiences storm phobias. I know how stressful it is on you as the human to deal with these phobias and anxieties.