My pit bull is afraid of storms.

by Lisa

I have a 3-year-old pit bull named Simba. He joined our family a when he was about 1-1/2. The past several months, he seems to be scared to death of thunder and lightening. He shakes uncontrollably and won't leave my side. The more he shakes, the more he pants, then, of course, the more he drools. What can I do for him when this happens?

Gale's Reply:

Hi Lisa,

One of my pit bulls is also thunder phobic. This wasn't always the case with her. It was after we moved to a more mountainous area in a higher elevation that she began having problems. Dogs are sensitive to things like barometric pressure. So, you may see Simba getting anxious well before a storm hits.

Of course, your vet can prescribe anti-anxiety meds. But, these can have side effects. For some dogs, it's the only thing that works. But, unless Simba's anxiety is so severe that he might hurt himself or someone else, you'll probably want to try some non-drug remedies first.

My Blanca has responded well to The Thundershirt. It is a jacket made of soft stretchy material that wraps snugly around the dog's body helping them feel more secure.

For her, this has been a godsend. It seems to have a cumulative effect in that each time we use it it seems to work better and better for her. One limitation is that it only seems to work when either my husband or I am home. If we put it on her and then leave the house and it storms while we are gone, she will still tear into things if not confined.

Some dogs respond really well to aromatherapy. You can purchase a specially designed diffuser that releases DAP (dog appeasing pheromone). This is the scent that a mother dog releases when nursing. And, some dogs find this very soothing.

Another possible solution--sound. This CD has been tested in clinical trials and has gotten great consumer reviews too.

Finally, most behaviorists will tell you that an owner's tendency to make a fuss over the dog that's experiencing anxiety can often heighten their fear response. The extra attention may cause the dog to feel that there really is something to be concerned about. So, the more nonchalant you can be--the better.

Lisa, I hope you'll post back here if you try some of these things and let us know how Simba is doing.

For more information on obedience training, visit our Pit Bull Training page.

For help with behavioral problems, check out our Dog Behavior Training page.

Comments for My pit bull is afraid of storms.

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Oct 09, 2010
What worked for us
by: Nancy

Lacey used to be this way, leaving large puddles of drool anywhere she went. I read a hint on-line that physical contact without causing a fuss would help. Now when Lacey starts panting and pacing and trying to crawl under my computer chair because a storm is approaching, I put her towel on the floor in front of my sofa so that her head is under the coffee table, then I relax on the sofa with one foot dangling over the side to rest on her side. She still shivers a little bit, panting some if the storm is really bad, but no where near the amount of panic and drooling that we used to deal with. If we have to go out when a storm is forecast, I turn off the TV and turn on the stereo, then put her towel in the corner of the room by the stereo.

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