Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thundershirt, herbal remedies to help calm your dog during storms, other anxious times

I awoke at 5 a.m. this morning to the feeling I was being restrained, or that at least my legs were.
Then I heard the rain and thunder. A strike of lightning lit up the woods outside the bedroom window.
Groggy as I may have been, I knew what was happening to me.
I was being spooned by the dog — his heavy head and big front paws squarely over my calves — who was seeking some reassurance that this storm wasn't going to barrel through the window and get him.
The storm was in full swing when we got up this morning — the claps of thunder loud enough to even make me jump, and I love storms.
Sensi stuck to us like glue this morning, even laying down on the rug outside the shower while we cleaned up.
Once we shut the windows (we leave them open when it rains because we have 6-foot overhangs and enjoy the sound of the rain) and gave him his Buster Cube, though, he was over it.
I'm lucky that, for all Sensi's intense fears, storms aren't one of them.
In his old age now, he jumps a little at a loud clap of thunder and likes to be near us when it's particularly nasty outside. But there's no panting, no drooling, no shaking, no hiding or whining or even tail tucking. Pretty lucky, I know.
Lots of folks have dogs who may not have any other fear issues, but go absolutely bonkers when a storm rolls in.
If you are one of those folks — or if you're trying to mitigate other situations that create anxiety and fear for your dog — here are a couple suggestions from a reader that might help you out.
"First is the thundershirt," wrote Jessica Meier, who has trained dogs for obedience competitions for more than 20 years. "This really helped my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He has since passed away, however, he enjoyed wearing his shirt!"
I love the Thundershirt idea. Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation, talks about the impact a good squeeze and embrace can have on settling both animals and autistic people. Read more about that in my blog post, Storms on their way, how will your dog react?
"On my Toller Annie, his granddaughter, I use Animal Essentials Tranquility blend," Meier continued. "It is an herbal tonic. It works like a charm."
I have heard a lot of good things about herbal calming solutions for dogs.
So, if your dog has anxiety issues, those are couple things to think about.
I'd love to hear your dog-thunderstorm stories! How does your dog react in a thunderstorm?

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