Dogs and Storms: Tips to deal with storm anxiety and whether to walk your pet 🐶

With new storms arriving with increasing regularity, we're looking at how extreme weather impacts our pets.
Stormy weather can have a negative impact on our four-legged friends.Stormy weather can have a negative impact on our four-legged friends.
Stormy weather can have a negative impact on our four-legged friends.

Weather warnings for wind and rain across Scotland have been coming thick and fast from the Met Office - with Isha the latest storm to batter the country.

Dog owners up and down the country are asking themselves "Is it safe to take my dog for a walk?" and “How do I keep my dog calm during the storms?”.

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To give them a helping hand Dr. Emma Scales Theobald, canine behaviourist and resident dog expert at Canine Cottages, has shared her advice when stormy conditions arrive.

Here's what she had to say.

Dealing with dog storm anxiety

Create a calming playlist

The best way to offset the anxiety-inducing noises from the outside world can be to create a playlist of calming sounds.

You can find many playlists online with features calming music for dogs, however, you can also play calming nature sounds or white noises.

The TV can also be another welcome distraction, make sure to avoid any TV shows which will likely have distressing sounds.

Close the curtains/blinds

Dogs are known to enjoy looking out of the window and watch the world outside. However, heavy storms can cause objects to blow around, which can be distressing to dogs.

By closing the blinds, or drawing the curtains, this helps your dog contain a level of calmness.

Play some games, like fetch or ‘find it’, with your dog indoors to distract them

If your dog is visibly distressed, it may feel natural to console them. However, creating a fuss when they’re exhibiting this behaviour can unknowingly reinforce behaviour.

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.

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Use calming aids

To help further alleviate your dog’s anxiety you can use calming aids such as a plug-in diffuser, collar, spray or wet wipes. These products distribute calming dog pheromones throughout the room.

However, if you know your dog gets particularly stressed by storms, you can speak to your vet about getting prescription calming medication too.

Should you take your dog for a walk in extreme weather?

Extreme weather can pose high risks for both dogs, and owners, however, most breeds do need daily exercise.

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 to 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. You could also consider bringing treats if your dog looks anxious and go at their pace if they seem reluctant to go out or keen to go home. Keep an eye out for any fallen debris and any rubbish which might have blown into your path, which could hurt your dog’s paws.

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