Thunder, Lightning, and Fireworks, Oh My!

We’ve had a series of very LOUD and frightening storms in Minnesota lately. Keeping my noise-sensitive dog Chase calm has been a challenge. I’ve received many questions about how to help a dog cope with thunderstorms and fireworks. We use Rescue® Remedy and a body wrap to help Chase feel secure (more info below). Here are some tips to help you prepare for and weather that next storm, and for the 4th of July:

Keep your dog safe inside, away from the commotion, when you know she will be upset by loud noises.

Teach and reinforce confident behavior in your dog. Don’t inadvertently reinforce timid behavior by reassuring your dog when she’s scared. Behave confidently and encourage her to be brave.

Learn Tellington Touch (TTouch) methods to help your dog relax and be calm in stressful situations. The TTouch hands-on methods, body wrap, and labyrinth can release tension and increase body awareness. Learn more at and in the book Getting in TTouch with Your Dog by Linda Tellington-Jones.

Use a body wrap to apply gentle uniform pressure to help your dog stay calm. The Thundershirt™ is relatively new and is similar to a traditional body wrap. I use a 3 inch wide, 5 foot long bandage to make a body wrap for Chase. I’ve been using this method for a while and I think it’s cooler than a thundershirt. It’s inexpensive, can be adjusted, and is easy to take along when traveling. Technically, what I use on Chase is a Half Wrap, according to the TTouch book mentioned above. This is what Chase looks like in his Half Wrap (notice the safety pin at top left in the first photo):

Be careful to place the safety pin away from the spine and joints, and don’t leave your dog unattended while wearing this. If you don’t want to fiddle with the bandage, you can try the Thundershirt™.

Give Rescue® Remedy for Pets (, Calm Shen from Herbsmith, Inc.™ (, or Comfort Zone® ( to help calm your dog. Be sure to use the versions of these products that are made for pets (the Rescue® Remedy pastilles made for people may contain xylitol, which is toxic to pets). Consult your veterinarian about using these products along with medications. The first time you use any product, stay with your dog to observe her response. I learned from healer Lena Swanson that often people don’t get the desired results from Rescue® Remedy because they don’t use it early enough and often enough. It’s important to give your dog Rescue® Remedy before the storm (or fireworks) begins and continue to give it regularly throughout the event.

Learn how to give calming signals to your dog by reading Turid Rugaas’ book, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals or exploring her website,

Ask your veterinarian to check your dog for health problems that may cause behavioral problems.

Please keep your dog safe inside during the 4th of July weekend and during loud storms, and use the techniques above that work best for your dog. You’ll both be glad you did.

This post includes information from the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book by Jenny Pavlovic

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