Ask Piper - Thunderboom
Q: Dear Piper, I need your help so badly.
I can just feel it in my bones - it's that time of year where the THUNDERBOOMS start to happen and it feels like my entire universe is being ripped apart from the inside out (no, I don't watch too much Dr. Who, what makes you say that?).
Sometimes I try to tell my mom and dad how scared I am and they ignore me and say they don't want to "reinforce my fear". So I sit there sad and alone crying and it's so so scary. They put a squeezy shirt on me and I guess it's stylish but I'm still scared of the thunderbooms. Is there anything you can do?
Petrified in Pittsburgh
A: Dear Petrified,
Big, big hugs from me. And I'm not the hugging type, so consider yourself honored.
Those thunderbooms sure do scare a lot of my friends - it's not just you. In fact, about 1 in 5 dogs suffers from a noise phobia. But here's the kicker - the huge majority of them CAN be helped! So hunker in there and listen.
First of all, ask your parents to put together a safe haven. This is a small, cuddly place sheltered as much as possible from the noise. Some dogs like bathrooms or laundry rooms, some like basement bedrooms... you tell your parents where you feel safe and that it's totally ok to hide from your fears. White noise like a box fan can help, too. And if cuddling your parents in bed is what gives you comfort... well, turn down the sheets mom and pop! Your dog's quality of life is totes worth an extra load of laundry.
Next tell your mom and dad that it's not just ok, but recommended to comfort a fearful dog. Cuddling, petting, feeding treats after scary noises, and happy-talking can all help spark happy neurochemicals that make you feel just a bit better.
Now here's a super important one. Your parents may be tempted to throw down a bunch of cash on squeezy clothes, essential oils, or over the counter supplements. Sometimes they help, sometimes they don't. What should you try first? My recommendation is that your parents contact your doctor and ask, 'cause you know what? There are a pup-ton of reliable, researched therapeutic and medication options out there that can take your anxiety down a notch or 3. And let me tell you that Dr. Doggo knows waaaaay more about your dog's brain than Dr. Google or Dr. Facebook. Just sayin'.
All of these tips will get you headed in the right direction. If your Pet Humans want a much bigger scoop of "howtheheckdoIhelpmydog'snoisephobia" pudding (I'm super good with metaphors), you can leave your browser open to this article about thunder phobias.
Until then, please believe me - the universe is NOT imploding. There are no Daleks IRL. And your best chance at time traveling through the thunderbooms is to hang out in that safe haven with a supportive human (or doggy friend!).
Safe and soundly yours,