Why your dog is more likely to run away in a storm

IT'S well known dogs are afraid of thunderstorms but it might surprise some pet owners to know it's not just the sound of thunder that freaks them out.

The look of a storm, the smell of it as it rolls in, the electric charge in the air as it builds - and how that makes them feel - combined with previous experiences create the stress and anxiety dogs experience during summer storm season.

For two common breeds in particular, it's an incredibly stressful time, renowned veterinary behaviourist Dr Cam Day says.

Most of Dr Day's time at the moment is being taken up working with pet owners on how to keep their dogs calm and safe during storms.

He says there is no easy fix but ensuring your dog isn't at home alone during a storm is a good start.

"For dogs storms are like this devil in the sky they can't fight and touch," Dr Day said.

"Often their first experience with a storm is bad so it becomes like post-traumatic stress syndrome in humans - they can't deal with the devil so they freak out.

"The worst storm for a dog is the storm that happens when the owners are at work."

Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Golden Retrievers seem to suffer from storm stress more than other dog breeds, Dr Day says, however, it can affect any dog.

The solutions to helping your dog face Mother Nature can be complicated, but with more storms predicted for Ipswich this week, the best thing owners can do is ensure their dog has a safe space to retreat to.

"The best remedy is a double brick house where the owners are home and the dog can't see the storm," Dr Day says.

"A soundproof sanctuary is ideal, often that's a walk-in wardrobe, a laundry or a bathroom.

"It's certainly not leaving the dog in the backyard where it has no comfort.

"A calming massage can be helpful for noise fearing dogs, medication is often used, but the most important thing to remember is there's no rubber stamp solution."

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