I used to love thunderstorms. The bright lightening bolts illuminating the night sky followed by booming claps of thunder created natural entertainment -- that was until I lived with a dog who was deathly afraid of summer storms. Ruth panicked so badly that, if no one was home, she'd actually break out of our house and race wildly in any direction trying to escape the storm. Even years after Ruthie died, I have never been able to enjoy a summer storm like I did prior to living with a storm-phobic dog. Ruth was a natural weather-caster. Her internal Doppler radar system could predict a storm long before the first rain drop. Blue skies did not fool Ruth -- if rain was on the way, she'd start shaking and hiding hours before the first rain drop fell.
Many dogs are scared to death of storms. And, unfortunately, according to a 2006 study conducted by Penn State veterinarians, there is very little that guardians can do to comfort their anxious friends. Holding a dog, contrary to popular belief, during a storm does very little, if anything at all, to lower the dog's level of anxiety. The study concluded, that the only intervention, other than drugs, that might comfort a storm phobic dog, is the company of other dogs. Thunderstorm phobic dogs living in multiple dog households were not as anxious as storm phobic dogs who were living in only-dog households. And, the dogs in multiple dog households seemed to recover from their heightened anxiety faster than those storm phobic only dogs.
With summer storm season approaching, people with fearful dogs may want to venture over to the League to visit with the many happy-go-lucky dogs who are anxioulsy waiting to help their potential fearful friends.
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