At the end of a long walk, no one wants one extra problem. That’s why it’s important to address and correct your dog’s fears early on.
If your dog is stopping or stalling near storm drains when you don’t want them to…
Dog Afraid Of Storm Drains
Storm drains, those large gaping holes in the ground that probably smell worse and sound louder to dogs than it does to us. It’s no wonder that your dog is scared of storm drains when you pass by them on a walk. This is a pretty common issue dog owners have with these curb-side caves. There are many ways to fix it!
What Scares Dogs About Storm Drains (Sight, Grating Noice, Smell)?
A dog’s hearing and smell are much better than its human counterparts.
When passing by a storm drain even we can hear the rushing water below and the pungent smell from who knows what. Imagine how loud and smelly it must seem to your dog.
Pair this with the fact that the grate is a scary sight for your dog as well. When passing by it as a child you may have had a fear that you would fall straight through the gate. Your dog is probably the same size as you were when you were eight or nine, or even smaller. For them, the grate has a possibility of them falling through to a world where it sounds bad and smells worse.
Why Does My Puppy Panic Near Storm Drains?
Considering how much your pup can smell and hear near a storm drain it’s no wonder they panic.
Especially if they aren’t used to walking past one or have never seen one before. This can be a scary experience for them. It’s something that they aren’t used to and don’t know what it is. To a human, you can explain what it is, but a dog’s fears will simply get the better of them.
Why Is My Dog Afraid Of Storm Drains & Refuse To Walk Over Them?
When you’re walking past a storm drain on a perfectly normal walk, does your dog seem to stop in his tracks? Even if you’re twenty feet or more away from the storm drain, they just seem to know it’s coming before you get there.
This is a common occurrence in puppies.
Your dog may be perfectly fine until you get to a storm drain, and then they stop dead in their tracks. They plant their paws firmly in their place and lie down until you force them to keep moving. With two grates on their street, they might do their best to navigate between the two, staying as far away as possible from both.
What Not To Do When A Dog Is Scared Of Storm Drains?
Well, what do you do when your dog won’t walk past a storm drain? Don’t worry, you won’t need to reroute your walk. A few simple solutions will fix your problem in no time.
In my experience with my dog, the best thing you can do is to pay no attention to any fear or panic they’re exhibiting.
My dog used to freeze up at the sight of a storm drain. She would stop in her tracks and refuse to move any further. In response to my pet’s fear, I wouldn’t react at all. A simple tug on the leash and an encouraging, “Come on, let’s go,” was enough to get her moving.
When you don’t react to your dog’s fear and act like nothing is going on, they’ll begin to think there’s nothing to be afraid of. Your dog will see your reaction to the problem as a model for their behavior. If you comfort them when they show fear, it’ll confirm their concerns.
By acting as if there isn’t even a storm drain at all your dog will start to pass by it with no problems.
Now, my dog can walk past or through storm drains with no problems and not even a second glance. If she starts to slow down or freeze again, maintain calm and encourage them to keep walking.
If your dog has been having problems with storm drains on your walk and you plan to use the method of walking past them, you’ll want to make sure they can’t slip away. Fear can make a dog skittish and forcing them to walk past their fear may cause them to try to run away at first. Your dog should have a secure harness or collar on while you’re walking by a storm drain or on any walk.
My Dog Is Scared Of Sewer Vents When We Go On Walks. What Do I Do?
If you’re walking your dog past a sewer vent that they’re scared of just make sure you keep the leash tight enough. I made sure to not give my dog’s leash too much slack so she couldn’t run out into the street. Not only is this dangerous because she could’ve gotten hit by an oncoming car but it’s also letting her run away from what’s scaring her.
You need to make sure your dog can get to the point where they can pass and ignore what’s scaring them.
Remember to remain positive! Lots of ‘Come on!’ and ‘Let’s Go!’ and ‘You Got it! Maintaining a positive mood and telling your dog they’re a good boy/girl will distract them long enough to get them past the sewer vent.
My dog would start to pull back and slow down sometimes as well. When she would do this a little bit of goofiness would distract her long enough to get past the sewer vent. Jog a little, get them to run, and start clapping. Making sure they’re distracted and preferably happy is the best thing you can do.
Just try to keep them on the street because the last thing you want is them to start straying into the street.
Would An Anxiety Coat Help Overcome Storm Drains?
Professionals have mixed reviews on anxiety coats. There is no definite proof that an anxiety coat will help an anxious dog.
Anxiety coats work by applying gentle pressure evenly over their body. This pressure releases endorphins and calms the dog. The is the same reason why petting an anxious dog can calm them down.
Some argue that dogs may appear calm while using an anxiety coat but in reality, they’re just uncomfortable. Because they’re uncomfortable, the dog doesn’t want to move. They’ll remain anxious and the real problem won’t be addressed.
However, if you want to try an anxiety coat on your dog and find it works: Use it!
No one knows your dog better than you. You’ve seen them anxious and scared and you’ve also seen them happy and excited. If you try an anxiety coat out on your dog and notice they’re responding to it well, you will be able to tell.
All in all, no harm will be done if you use an anxiety coat to help combat your dog’s fear of storm drains. Who knows? It might just do the trick.
Should I Use Dog Treats To Help My Pup?
Treats as rewards are a great idea!
However, it must be at appropriate times. Rewarding a dog at the wrong time will have the opposite result you’re looking for.
When you and your dog are passing by that dreaded storm drain on your walk, then stop or slow down as usual. If you try encouraging them but they’re not cooperating properly and you still give them a treat, this will reinforce that negative behavior. Your dog will associate the reward with what they’ve been doing, which is avoiding the storm drain.
If what you want is to get your dog to finally walk past a storm drain with no problems (which is probably what you do want), then you’ll need to refrain from the treats.
Only reward your dog with a treat when they do exactly what you want them to. When they walk past the storm drain successfully, then you can give them the treat. This will reinforce that this is the behavior that you want for them
If you’re using the treat as a bribing method to get your dog past the drain, wait until they pass the drain. Giving them the treat in the hope they’ll cooperate won’t get you very fair as they’ve already gotten what they want.
Are Storm Drains Dangerous To Dogs?
Although your dog’s fear of storm drains can seem entirely ridiculous, keep in mind that accidents can happen! Especially if your pet is smaller in size.
My coworker’s dog, Bing, recently had a bad accident with a storm drain. It was horrible to see, and I could only imagine how bad the poor pup hurt.
While on a late-night walk, Bing’s rear leg slipped in between the grates of a sewer grain. Panicking, he yanked his leg out from between the slots. The lower part of that leg was severely lacerated.
The skin was torn pretty badly so that you could even see the tendons. Thankfully you couldn’t see any bone. Who knows though, if he pulled his leg out a different way the cut could have been worse and that might have been the case.
Sadly, the very bottom of his leg suffered worse injuries. Right above the paw pad, you can see where it was nearly severed completely.
Bing is recovering nicely now and will hopefully be able to go on walks again soon.
This terrible accident just goes to show that you can never be too careful. Chances are this won’t happen but you should never push your dog too far out of its comfort zone. Get them to walk past the grate but never scare them or force them to stand on it. They may be sensing danger and are scared for a reason.
Why Do Some Dogs Like Storm Drains?
Some dogs are more adventurous than others. Anyone who’s ever walked by a dog park knows this is the case.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
The sounds and strange smells that your dog is wary of, another dog may find exciting. The sound of rushing water that they can’t see is just another thing to be interested in. Better yet, it’s carrying all sorts of different smells from around town! They might just be interested in the rat’s nest that they can hear nestled far below the surface.
Your dog sees the world in a completely different light from you. Something you, and maybe other dogs, would see as something to avoid or bypass might be the highlight of their day.
You and your dog will be cruising by the storm drain in no time!