Spring storms sure can do a number on our houses and vehicles. They can also do a number on our dogs. How does your dog fare in a thunderstorm? The recent hail storms that moved through Harker Heights scared even our bravest dogs until they discovered the tasty remnants left behind by the storm.

There are a number of products on the market to help ease your dog during stressful situations, like storms. For some dogs, they are extremely helpful, while others find no relief at all. The “why” can be tracked back to a number of reasons depending on whom you ask. In my opinion, the way a dog is raised by the canine mother, human family and genetics all come together to play a role.

The role of the canine mother is to teach the puppy how to face the world. If the mother dog has known only cruelty and doesn’t offer the puppy love or affection during the first 8 to 10 weeks of life, the puppy will have a harder time connecting with others.

Love and affection from dog to puppy isn’t the same as human mother to a baby, it’s not cuddling and snuggling. Canine mothers show love by licking, grooming, pushing the puppy into independence instead of allowing him or her to shy away from life, and allowing the puppy to face fears alone sometimes. While we may see it as cruel, allowing a young dog to embrace a fearful situation without coddling can set the tone for the rest of his or her life.

However, every dog is different. Each dog has a different personality and some need a little extra boost. In our home, we recently had a litter of six puppies and all six have different personalities. They all slept through a storm, but what about their momma? She cowered and shook through the entire event. We pulled her away from the puppies so her negative energy wouldn’t affect them. For her, a Thundershirt and some calming oils on her collar helped her weather the storm a bit easier.

Thinking outside the traditional toolbox to help dogs weather stressful situations can make the difference between a success and a failure. For example, using essential oils on their collar to assist the calming process might not be something a traditional veterinarian would prescribe, but if you can create a calmer dog without medication, I think it’s a win.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against medicine for dogs. In fact, I’ve seen medicine save dogs’ lives many times, but I’ve seen the damage overuse of medications can do also.

As your dog’s advocate, you have to make good choices every day so weigh the pros and cons. If your dog needs calming medicine, talk to your veterinarian and get some.

Try a Thundershirt or get a small child’s shirt and make your own version of a Thundershirt. Tighten the shirt as much as you can on your dog using rubber bands or ace bandages to secure the shirt and keep it from coming loose. The shirt pulled tightly into small knots then rubber banded together can look comical; however, the compression might help your dog through the storm. When it helps your dog, it’s worth looking a little funny, isn’t it? We’ve all been there at least once.

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