The Havanese Dog and the Storm: How to Deal with Storm Fear?

Emma is a 4-year-old Havanese dog who panics every time there is a storm. Emma's owner, Robi, has recently moved to the countryside where storms are more frequent and this is a serious problem.

Emma wanders restlessly in the hours before a storm, then when thunder and lightning appear, she takes shelter in the house and waits for the storm to pass, panting and shaking.

Robi asked, "What can I do to help Emma's anxiety?"

The answer is

As with all breeds of dogs, there are individuals who are more susceptible to storms. Emma's problem is not uncommon, and I can assure you that there are ways to deal with it!

Firstly, I would suggest that you create a "storm shelter" for Emma where she can feel safe during storms.

This could be the bottom of a cupboard, the bathroom, or even a box covered with a blanket where your dog can hide. Give her reward treats and toys during the storm to associate the place with positive associations.

My second suggestion is desensitization and counter conditioning, which takes longer but is very effective.

There are sound recordings and apps that reproduce the sounds of a storm. Start playing these sounds very softly while Emma is playing with her favourite toy or doing some positive activity. Gradually increase the volume over the days and weeks!

As a third option, talk to your local vet.

He or she may recommend medications or supplements that can help manage Emma's anxiety.

Remember that every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Most importantly, approach Emma's problems with patience and love, and never punish her for her fears.

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I hope these tips will help you and Emma deal with the stress of storms together.