They Know Before Us…

I usually don’t watch the local news, so I don’t see what the weather is going to be for the day, Elaine might share it, but usually I don’t care and will wait to see what happens for the day, but some of my dogs do know something is in the air.  It can be a warm sunny day and the sky is clear, the wind has a slight breeze but trouble is in the air according to some of the dogs.  All of a sudden, I see Shepp, his ears are pinned back and he has “that” look on his face and I know it is coming.  Even though there is not a sound in the air or a dark cloud anywhere to be seen, Shepp will dart from shelter to shelter, looking for places to hide because he senses a storm is coming.  He will literally zone out, not seeing anything or hearing a word, he’s in another world.

I don’t know why some dogs are frightened of storms but some of mine are uncomfortable but some are terrified and one of our early dogs was defiant.  For some time, “Max” would get restless and we would try to console him but he wouldn't have any of it.  Once we put him in the house and we thought he was going to go crazy because he wanted out.  

Max and Molly as a pup...
It was a real summer downpour with lots of thunder and lighting and off Max went, running on the dam of the lake and barking at the sky.  He would run as hard as he could, back and forth, time after time.  When he was exhausted, he would just sit in the pouring rain and look at the heavens and bark.  After it cleared, Max would come back to the house and sleep, he was now content, he had won and was happy.   
Many dogs are afraid of thunder simply because they don't understand what it is. Dogs hear this loud noise and perceive it as something threatening and it can come up at any time.

Headed toward our house a few years ago...
According to Dr. Lauren Brickman, “some dogs try to go under tables, in bathtubs, or in any other places that make them feel secure. It is OK to allow them to do this.  It is important, however, not to try to soothe your pet too much. Doing so can actually encourage his fear if he senses any insecurity in your voice.  During a thunderstorm, try to provide a background noise for your dog, such as TV or radio. This may help to somewhat drown out the noise of the thunder. You can also try to get your dog’s mind off the storm by playing with him.  There are some dogs that require sedation when there is a storm. Consult your veterinarian so that they can prescribe something to calm your dog during a storm.”

Shepp once lived in Florida and when he moved back home, his owner brought his “storm pills” which he needed nearly every day because of the daily storms.  There has been a lot of discussion on this matter but some think it’s just related to storms.  Shepp will even jump from a deep sleep if a low noise comes from the television.  He’s a happy little chap when the weather is clear but he is my weather guide.
Just two nights ago, a thunderstorm rolled through and Shepp discovered that an open shower door is his new haven.  We've tried many things, but on the first distance noise or change, he’s in the zone…
Most of the other dogs are fine except Dutchess.  She isn't too bad but she will always find me and give that "Lauren Bacall" look as if to say “keep me safe and hold me” which I do. 

Not to be confused, this is Dutchess...
What You Can Do to Help
Create a Safe Place: Try to create a safe place for your dog to go to when she hears the noises that frighten her. But remember, this must be a safe location from her perspective, not yours. Notice where she goes, or tries to go, when she's frightened, and if at all possible, give her access to that place. If she's trying to get under your bed, give her access to your bedroom.
You can also create a "hidey hole" that is dark, small, and shielded from the frightening sound as much as possible. Encourage her to go there when you're home and the thunder or other noise occurs. Consider using a fan or radio near the spot to help block out the sound. Feed her in that location and help your dog associate that spot with other "good things" happening to her there. She must be able to come and go from this location freely. Confining her in the "hidey hole" when she doesn't want to be there will only cause more problems. The "safe place" approach may work with some dogs, but not all. Some dogs are motivated to move and be active when frightened and "hiding out" won't help them feel less fearful.

The weather forecast I use...   Ken

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