Today, the UK is facing Storm Ciara. News headlines are warning of a months’ worth of rain in a day, 80mph gusts of wind, flying debris which could cause injury and even a threat to life.
That’s all out of the ordinary and pretty scary stuff for humans, even though we knew it was coming. We’ve had advanced warning and had time to prepare our day and make sure we are not affected by it. Our Labradors haven’t had that luxury so may wonder what is going on today.
I know one of my Labradors, Jess woke me early this morning with her whining, excessive panting and generally being very unsettled. This behaviour isn’t usual for her so that’s a good indicator to me that something isn’t quite right in her world, she is feeling scared and is looking to me for reassurance.
I’m not surprised that Jess is unsettled today, the wind is whistling through the windows, branches from nearby trees are hitting the windows and heavy rain is coming down on the roof pretty hard at the moment.
She didn’t expect this, she hasn’t got access to a news channel that prepared her for this sudden change. It’s now down to me to take some time to show her everything is ok and that she is safe.
We spent an hour together this morning playing some games indoors, rewarding her calmness and exploring the house together so that she can see everything is the same as normal.
As I sit typing this, Jess is now fast asleep at my feet underneath my desk and is happily snoring like a middle-aged man that has had too many pints of Ale.
Here are some of the indicators that your Labrador may be stressed out by the storm:
Excessive panting | Whimpering | constant barking | Drooling | Shaking | Pacing around the house, as if on guard | Excessive drinking | Loss of appetite | Toileting in the house | Hiding under the bed.
Reassure your Labrador
We don’t want to see our Labradors suffer unnecessarily so Spending quality time with them and allowing them to be your shadow is a way that will help them feel reassured
During a storm, when your Labrador is already stressed out is no time to show them anything that is negative, keep everything positive.
Put yourself in their paws for a minute … you are really stressed and scared and then the people you look to for help are nasty to you, ignore you or raise their voice when you look to them for help.I know for me, that would just make everything worse.
Keep the rewards flowing and offer rewards in the form of toys or treats for everything they do that you like.
Show your Labrador that a storm can actually have some upsides and is not all bad.
Keep them indoors and entertained
Labradors love to sleep, I know that is no shock to you!
Having a ‘rest day’, when they don’t go for a proper walk won’t do them any harm, in fact there is lots of evidence to suggest that a ‘rest day’ is really good for them.
When you take your Labrador outdoors to go to the toilet, I would recommend keeping them on a lead as the wind can cause the ‘flight mode’ to go into full effect, dogs have been known to make a bid for freedom as they try and escape the scary situation.
Instead of long walks and running through fields, give them a day indoors with some enrichment games. Google will be your friend here, there are lots of ideas online and you may find it even keeps the kids busy for a few hours too, winner!!!
Keep the TV or radio on today, maybe even overnight if you find it helps. Turn the volume up slightly louder than normal. Play music that is soothing for your dog, everyone is different so some may prefer a bit of Classic FM instead of rocking out to AC/DC all day.
Make a safe space
If your dog is crate trained, they may instinctively spend some more time than usual there today as they will know they are safe there. Adding a blanket across the top of the crate will add another layer of safety for them.
If your dog is not crate trained, I would advise making them a den or a safe place they can go where they feel nicely enclosed. My dog has decided that my desk is a good place to spend her day, that’s fine as she’s happy there. I have provided her with some blankets, her water bowl, some chew toys and enclosed the sides with a blanket draped over the desk. She loves it and knows she is safe in there.
You could create a safe place under the dining table, a desk, behind the sofa, under your bed, under the stairs, whatever works for your dog.
Some Labradors may not experience any issues with the storm at all, other may really suffer so take the lead from your Labrador and observe the signs they are giving you.
If your Labrador is a nervous wreck then I would always recommend consulting a vet as they are able to prescribe medication that can help in times of need, such as fireworks night, storms or noisy celebrations.
You can also visit your local pet shop, many stock over the counter products to help your dog relax, there are lots of herbal remedies and some great plug ins that can help.
Stay safe and enjoy the opportunity to have a day in front of the TV with your four-legged best friend.