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August 24, 2020

How to Calm an Anxious Dog During a Hurricane

Hurricane season is going strong and unfortunately, that’s not good news for many pups. We don’t know what exactly about storms and hurricanes triggers anxiety, but we know the effects are very real: pacing, panting, hiding, chewing carpets, clawing drywall… No one wants to see their fur baby go through this, so we want to help you find solutions to your pup’s hurricane anxiety. 

As a caring pet parent, what can you do to calm an anxious dog during a hurricane? You can apply these same tips to anything from tropical storms to thunderstorms. 

Create a safe space

First of all, you should bring your dog indoors well before the storm hits. Once indoors, your dog needs a safe space where they can hide from the storm. It can be anything from a crate to a sound-proof room — the best way to see what your dog prefers is to follow where they go during a storm. Include your dog’s favorite toys, treats and bed in the safe space and let them get used to the space for weeks before the storm season. Let them seek out their safe space on their own and don’t lock them in. 

Practice calmness

Yes, you can practice calmness! In the weeks leading up to the storm season and on calm days, practice having your pup settle on command. Teach them to lie calmly at your feet and remember to praise and reward them for their calm behavior. You can also buy a special leash that’s only used for this exercise. That way, your dog will recognize the exercise as soon as you take out the special leash. 

Desensitizing to storm sounds

Before the storm season, begin playing storm sounds to your dog (there are CDs and streaming recordings specifically designed for this). Make sure the volume is at a low level at first and encourage your pup with treats as you listen to the storm sounds together. Over days and weeks, you can increase the volume of the sounds as you continue to reward your pup for staying calm. 

Prepare your home

Install hurricane windows to block out the storm, if you can. Just pulling the shades will block things like lighting flashes as well as some of the sounds of the storm. You can play soothing music to your dog (some studies suggest pups love classical music) or try to supplement the storm sounds with TV and radio sounds or white noise. 

Stay calm

Dogs recognize many of their owner’s emotions and respond to them. That means if you’re stressed, they’re stressed. That’s why it’s important for you to stay calm and be present. Consoling your pup too much can worsen their stress, so distract them with toys, play time or treats instead. Remember to stay home with your dog — your presence alone provides comfort. 

Calming treats

Consider calming supplements to help you calm an anxious dog during a hurricane, thunderstorm or any other source of stress unique to your pup. Okoa Pet’s “Hush, Puppy” CBD calming treats for dogs are all-natural soft chews that combine broad-spectrum hemp extract and other calming ingredients. They’re specifically designed to help your pet cope with external sources of stress like hurricanes. You can find more information on them here