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Is Your Dog Afraid of Storms?

Since summer is fastly approaching us, the reality of thunderstorms and heavy rain happening more frequently can make you have anxiety about your dog's behavior. Before the first clap of thunder, well-behaved dogs can begin to pace, pant, and cling to owners or hide behind furniture. Thunderstorm phobia in dogs is real and should not be ignored. Veterinarians suspect that dogs are set off by some combination of wind, thunder, lightning, barometric pressure changes, static electricity, and low frequency rumbles that occur before a storm that humans cannot hear.

There is no easy fix unless your dog is only midly affected. It can be difficult to treat, but there are tools that can help reduce your dog's distress during storms. 

1. Reward you dog's calm behavior year round. Practice getting your dog to settle on command. You can put a special "inside" leash on your dog and practice having your pet lie at your feet, praising calm behavior, especially when there is a storm, and so your dog can learn the routine. During the storm, distract him or her by offering a favorite toy, playing fetch, or feeding treats as long as the dog remains calm. 

2. Give your dog a safe place to go during a storm. Let your dog decide where that might be in your home. Be sure this is in an area of your home where your dog can come and go freely. 

3. Consider buying your dog a snug garment. Sung fitting shirts and wraps especially designed to calm anxious dogs can be worth a try. The garment can have a calming effect, which is similar to that of swaddling a baby.

4. Ask a veterinarian for advice. He or she may have more ideas for behavior modification during storms. Not all dogs need anti-anxiety medication, but dogs in a horrible state of anxiety will have a benefit. In this case, you can work with your veterinarian to find a treatment plan. 

The Almost Home Foundation Animal Rescue hosts Fashion for Compassion, a luncheon and fashion show from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. June 7 at Hilton Indian Lakes in Bloomingdale. The fundraiser features not only human models on the runway, but adoptable dogs as well. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased here.

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