When the storms rolled through last night, the dog I am fostering let me know it. The barking started around midnight, and lasted until around 4:30 this morning. I lied there the whole night, wondering "How can I get my dog to stop barking during a thunderstorm?" I took to the Google, and found a few steps that may help you (notice that I said "you", instead of "me"? You'll understand what I mean before the end of this article).

One of the preventative tips is to desensitize your dog to the thunder by playing recordings of thunder (that won't interfere with watching The Bachelor, right?  Pffft!)

Another tip that the Pet Health website recommends is to be home with your dog during the storm. Which dog, you may ask? The one that barks during thunderstorms. THAT one. The website says that your presence will calm the dog. (It won't. I was with THAT dog all night. He didn't even notice me.)

The next tip is to make sure that the dog is not left outside, where the thunder is loudest. (My dogs come inside every night, so this tip didn't help me last night. As a matter of fact, the next tip didn't help, either.)

The next tip, according to the Pet Health website, to keep your dog from barking during a thunderstorm is to try to prevent your dog from knowing that there is a thunderstorm. My recommendation: head, with said dog who gets upset during storms, to your nearest Navy Submarine facility. Board one of the newer submarines (they smell better), and head out to sea a few miles, and then have the captain submerge. (Ask him/her if you can get on the intercom and say "DIve!! Dive!! Dive!!" like they do in the movies!!). Being a few hundred feet under the surface of the ocean will insulate your dog from the sound of the thunder, and from the flash of the lightning. Once the storm passes, return to shore and go about your business.

If you don't have access to a submarine, the best thing to do is to bring your dog (you know which one - the one can make your liver quiver with each bark) to the inner-most room of your home, make him or her a nest on the floor or bed or in a sound-proof kennel (who even has one of those??), and then hope for the best. (In this case, the "best" being that your room is far enough away so you don't hear the barking, because who has a house big enough to NOT be able to hear thunder from anywhere inside the home? You'd have to have a house that covers 3 different parishes to attain that level of solitude for your dog!).

If that doesn't work (and it WON'T, believe me), the website suggests to use a "masking" noise. (MASK: to disguise or cover up.) Play a radio that will drown out the sound of the thunder and that MAY allow your dog to calm down (but will NOT allow you to get any sleep. My money is still on that submarine).

(I don't know if masking will actually work, because I was in the same room with that dog, and for him to know that the noise was NOT coming from my body, well, that just proves how discerning this dog really is!)

The next tip that the website gives is using a pheromone collar or diffuser. This is a collar or desk-top unit that, intermittently, sprays a chemical that mimics the natural "sprays" of dogs or other animals. Eww. The claim is that these chemicals are 70% effective in altering the behavior of your dog. (If it's not spraying THC or chloroform, I don't think that it will be effective for this dog).

The next tip: use medication when needed (and, of course, my first question is: medication for me? Or medication for the dog??). The website recommends getting with your vet to discuss a "light" sedative. (Trust me: I will be asking for something that could knock out a horse, and I'm taking it myself.)

Pet Health recommends, as the next tip, to practice calming strategies. (Again, my question: for the dog? Or for me??!?). Talk, don't yell. Hug, pet, scratch, belly-rub. Use a thunder wrap, or make one by using a towel (not TOO tight around the neck, if that thought happened to pop into your head. "It's just a thunderstorm, it'll pass" is the mantra I use).

The website recommends you try these tips to keep your dog calm:

  • cradling your dog’s face in your hands as if it was a football and make it look at you

  • then blinking your eyes as if you were falling asleep

  • show a soft smile (and certainly not a worried expression)

  • and whispering to your dog is the softest whisper you can manage. - Pet Health website

After all of these methods fail (or are not within reason to be effective), try to sleep late.  The dog dares you.

(Pet Health)