Some ways to help!
Stay calm. Adopt a neutral, matter-of-fact attitude.Our dogs reflect back to us all of our emotions and are highly affected by how we feel and behave. If we appear “freaked out” you are telling your dog that you are not in control and your dog will be left wondering who the heck is driving this ship. If you aren’t and he clearly can’t, your dog will be much more afraid, exacerbating the problem greatly.
Don’t coddle but you can comfort. Pull your dog into you, between your knees, and pet in a circular motion on the chest. Talk to your dog in a very confident, calm tone of voice and let them know everything is okay!
If your dog has a spot in the house where they like to go and hide and they seem to feel calmer and safe there, LET THEM! Do not try to force them out from under the bed (or whatever spot they go to for safety) if they are able to go there and get relief from the fear. If they go and hide but constantly whine, shake, whimper, etc. you really must get them some medicinal relief so they can respond to the counter conditioning program that you put into place.
Helping a dog get over fear of storms is a process. The best way is to either buy a CD of thunderstorm sounds or play them on You Tube at very low volume while playing a fun game with her or just going about your daily routine and occasionally engaging with her and giving her a nice little treat. This makes a positive association with the sound while it is well below her “trigger” level. This can days to weeks to months, depending on your comittment and consistency and the level of intensity of your dog’s fear, so please be patient. You slowly increase the volume and amp up the positve association until she doesn’t associate the storms with negative emotions any longer.
Give medication or natural remedies, like Valerian Root, Lactium, Melatonin, etc. When fear of thunderstorms is extreme, you should consider doggy xanax or another anti-anxiety medication from your vet.
Invest in the Through a Dog’s Ear CDs. They are great and when you know a storm is coming, both during and after you’ve worked on counter conditioning her, play the music and start it well before the storm begins.
Above all, be kind and patient throughout the thunderstorm. Do whatever you can to calm your pet without adding to their stress and anxiety. If they need to follow your every step, let them. That means being close to you makes them feel better and, after all, they make us feel better all the time without even being asked. Unconditional love deserves the return of same and this is an easy one. 🙂