Winter is in full swing, with temperatures dropping and storms raging across the country. Whilst bad weather and strong winds might not be a problem for some dogs, for others, it can be a real issue and cause anxiety levels to surge.
If your dog is afraid, you might find them hiding under a table, trembling, and lowering their ears and tail. There are lots of signs of dog body language that you can look out for, these are just some of them.
You’re probably wondering whether you should be walking your dog in extreme weather, so we got the answers from Emma Scales-Theobal, a dog behaviorist and resident dog expert at Canine Cottages.
She says: “Whether you should take your dog for a walk during a storm can depend on the strength and conditions of the storm, as well as how you and your dog feel. If there’s thunder and lightning and exceptionally strong winds, then it’s best to avoid walking your dog for everyone’s safety. It might be safer to skip the walk and just let your dog out in your garden to do their business.
“If you have to go out with your dog, keep walks brief to just allow them time to do their business, consider if a raincoat would make them feel more comfortable and try to stick to more built up and sheltered areas.”
If the bad weather frightens your dog, here’s what you can do to help, according to Emma:
1. Make a calming music playlist for your dog
Did you know that music has a calming effect on animals as well as humans? Yep, according to the Journal of Animals, studies show that classical music can help to relax dogs in stressful situations.
Emma explains that the best way to cancel out any scary noises is by playing sounds that will relax your dog. This could be nature sounds, white noise, or music - you can even get playlists that are specially made for dogs. Or if that doesn’t work, the TV can work well as a distraction (as long as it’s nothing with alarming noises).
You might not have time to spend hours working on the perfect playlist for your pup. Luckily, Sound Oasis has done the hard work for you and put together 20 tracks designed to soothe your pet. You can also add your own sounds to the device and download new ones for free on the Sound Oasis app.
2. Close your blinds and curtains
Dogs love to have a nose out of the window (who doesn't?), but it’s not going to help them if they’re afraid of storms. When you know one is on the way, make sure you close your blinds and curtains to help keep them calm. If they see objects blowing about, it’s likely to make them feel even more frightened.
3. Play with your dog
If you’re looking for a way to keep your dog’s mind off of the storm, playing with them is a good place to start. Struggling for ideas? Here are 10 great brain games for dogs(don't forget to stock up on the best dog treats to use as their reward).
Emma says: “By keeping your dog entertained with indoor-based games such as fetch, offering puzzle feeders, or giving them a chew to play with keeps them mentally stimulated and distracted from what is going on outside.”
4. Use a calming aid
Calming aids, in the form of collars, plug-in diffusers, and wet wipes, are a great way to reduce your dog's anxiety. They distribute dog pheromones, which are chemical signals that animals use to communicate. Dog appeasing pheromones have been reported to relieve anxiety in dogs, according to The Canadian Veterinary Journal.
You might also want to try one of these long lasting dog chews to keep your dog happy and distracted. Alternatively, your vet might be able to prescribe calming medication if they're suffering.
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Megan is Staff Writer on PetsRadar and covers news, features, buying guides, and reviews. When she’s not talking about her cats, Nala and Chilli (a rare occasion), you’ll find her watching funny pet videos on Instagram and sending hundreds of them to her friends. She’s particularly interested in pet wellness and is fascinated by cat behavior. Megan has been animal-obsessed for as long as she can remember, having grown up with pets since the age of three and competed in horse riding competitions for seven years. She has had a variety of animals, including horses, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and fish, which taught her first-hand everything she knows about pet care.
Megan studied Journalism at the University of Westminster, where she specialized in lifestyle journalism and was Editor of the online student publication, Smoke Radio. She has experience working across digital and print media and previously worked for titles such as Harrods, My Local News, and Licklist. As a committed pet mom of two, she enjoys going the extra mile for her cats and is passionate about helping readers find the answers they need.