For Immediate Release: Home Dog Training of South Florida offers Tips to Manage Your Dog's Fear of Thunderstorms

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - May 20, 2013 - As thunderstorm season approaches, Home Dog Training of South Florida wants to help dog owners know how to manage their dog's fear of thunder and lightning. Dogs can be trained to cope with their reactions to violent storms and feel calmer through all the noise and bright flashes.

"Thunderstorms are a common fear in dogs, causing many to panic and run away, become destructive, or even hurt themselves," said Robin Edwards, dog behavioral therapist and trainer, Home Dog Training of South Florida. "Dogs can sense that a storm is on the way, and they often begin to show signs of anxiety even before the storm can be heard."

Edwards offers these tips to help your dog learn to be relaxed during storms, fireworks or other loud disturbances that may be frightening to him.

  • Give your dog a safe place to stay during storms. Inside your home, create a quiet, den-like area where your dog can feel secure. A properly introduced crate or kennel can be a calming refuge for him. When a storm is brewing, lead your dog to his special place to help him feel safe and protected.
  • Dogs can pick up fear or discomfort with storms from their family members, so it is important that you maintain a calm, matter-of-fact attitude when a storm is approaching. "Let your dog stay close and try to distract him with activities like play or brushing," said Edwards. "Do not try to comfort him in a sympathetic voice. This sounds like praise and may increase his nervousness and confusion."
  • During a storm, keep windows and curtains closed to reduce noise and bright flashes. Turn on a TV or radio playing soft music at normal volume to distract your dog and help him to relax.
  • Some dogs become destructive when frightened. A crate is the best way to keep your dog safe and your belongings intact. If you don't use a crate, remove any items in the room that your dog could destroy or cause him harm if he chewed them.
  • Always keep proper identification securely fastened to your dog's collar in case he gets out. A microchip (a permanent form of ID) gives an added layer of protection and increases the chances that your dog will be returned to you if he is lost or runs away.
  • Keep your dog away from doors that lead outside. "Your dog may be under significant stress, which could result in unintended injury to others entering your home or cause him to dart outside and get lost or injured," said Edwards.
  • Your dog may become incontinent due to his extreme fear and the rush of adrenaline he experiences during a storm. Be prepared for this, and don't react if it occurs.
  • If your dog lives outside, cover his doghouse or dog run with a blanket to shield him from the bursts of lightning. Outside dogs can get lost or injured if they escape their fenced yards in fear during storms.
Dogs that continue to panic when a storm approaches may have to be reconditioned by creating an artificial storm with environmental recordings. While reconditioning can be a time-consuming procedure, it can have a high success rate. A qualified dog behavioral therapist, such as a Bark Busters trainer, can help your dog be calmer during thunderstorms. Other options to try include the Thundershirt®, which uses gentle, constant pressure to calm your dog and reduce his anxiety and fearfulness. In extreme cases, medication may be the best solution to help your dog cope with his fear of storms. Consult with your veterinarian about possible treatments, in conjunction with training.

"Your dog's phobia of thunderstorms won't get better on its own," said Edwards. "Help him learn that it's just noise and is nothing for him to worry about. When he learns to relax and remain calm, you too can relax and not worry about your dog during future storms."

For more information, call us at 954-424-0170 or email us at


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