My Dog Is Scared of Thunder
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Thunder storms can be scary for anyone. It's raining but every now and then we hear a loud sound of thunder and sometimes we can really feel it too. For dogs, this sensation is even stronger as they are very sensitive to sounds and even the static buildup in their environment.
If your dog is scared of thunder, this is the perfect article for you. In this AnimalWised article, we're going to give you tips for calming down your dog during a thunderstorm.
How to know if your dog is scared of thunder
Dogs are very sensitive to their surroundings and especially to sounds. It's no wonder they may get scared or anxious during a storm. Here are the symptoms of a dog that has storm phobia or storm anxiety:
- Lowered tail and ears
- Howling or whining
- Involuntary urination
- Destructive behaviour
If you've noticed your dog react this way to a thunder storm, they are experiencing anxiety and storm phobia. Continue reading this article to learn why dogs are scared of thunder and how you can help them calm down during a storm.
Why is your dog scared of thunder
A common question about this issue is why a dog would be scared of thunder. Other than being sensitive to the loud noise of thunder, thanks to their incredible hearing, dogs can also sense static build-up. Large dogs or dogs with a double coat may feel the static build-up more than other dogs.
Dogs can also sense the dropping barometric pressure in the environment. Add that to feeling the static build-up, watching the dark clouds and hearing loud noises. It's no wonder some of them may begin to feel frightened and want to take shelter.
How to help a dog with storm phobia
Now that we understand why they may feel anxious or scared, how can we help our dog calm down during a thunder storm? Thankfully, there are a number of things we can do. Doing all of these over time will help them slowly feel more confident and safe during a storm.
They will develop a routine that helps them cope with their anxiety and feel less frightened. Here are our top tips for for help your dog calm down during a thunder storm:
Encourage calm behaviour
Encouraging calm behaviour even when there isn't a storm is very important. You can do this through positive reinforcement by giving them a treat when they obey commands to stay put when told to do so for their own safety. Start by training your dog on a regular basis. Learn more in our complete guide for dog training.
Many dogs will hide in the bathroom when they sense a thunder storm. Try to create a safe space where they can go when they begin to feel anxious. If your dog already goes to the bathroom, it's because they feel more safe there. Perhaps it's due to the fact that there's less noise there and they can't see what's happening outside.
Whatever the reason may be, try to allow them to go to their safe space and try to make it more comfortable by adding their bed, a blanket, some treats. Keeping them company is always a great idea as they will feel more safe with you. Shut the windows and close the curtains so they hear less of the noise and don't see the storm.
Several veterinarians recommend giving them a snug garment or an anti-static jacket. It's said to have a calming effect on canines going through an anxiety attack. It's also compared to how a human baby feels when snugged into a blanket.
There are also anti-static jackets that help them feel less static pressure and, hence, feel more relaxed. There are some studies that demonstrate the positive effects of snug garments. If you think this could help your dog, ask you veterinarian for more information.
Desensitise the sound
Desensitise the sound of the thunder storm by playing soothing music in the background that allows your dog to relax. Try to play the same music when they are relaxing in their everyday life. This way, when you play it during a storm, they can associate it to when they were calm.
Classical music or a simply piano playlist can do the trick. Make sure you close all the windows and play the music in their safe space. The music shouldn't be too loud as it might frighten your dog.
Another issue related to storm phobia is separation anxiety. Their symptoms are similar to storm phobia and this happens when you leave them alone. If your dog is also suffering form separation anxiety, we encourage you to learn more about that in our article called separation anxiety in dogs.
We also encourage you to stay with your dog during the storm in order to avoid them from experiencing destructive or self-harm behaviour. Dogs will often feel more calm in the presence of their caregivers in these situations. You can also pet them and speak to them softly so they know everything is okay.
Ask your veterinarian
Lastly, it's always a good idea to ask your veterinarian for tips as they know your dog and their situation with more details. They will be able to guide you towards helping your dog feel calm and safe during a thunder storm.
Below, we include our Youtube video with tips on how to calm down an anxious dog. We hope that these tips will help you accompany your dog during the next thunder storm and that it will help them keep calm and realise that everything will be okay.
If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Is Scared of Thunder, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.
- Crowell-Davis SL, Seibert LM, Sung W, Parthasarathy V, Curtis TM. Use of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification for treatment of storm phobia in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2003;222(6):744-748. doi:10.2460/javma.2003.222.744
- Overall KL, Dunham AE, Frank D. Frequency of nonspecific clinical signs in dogs with separation anxiety, thunderstorm phobia, and noise phobia, alone or in combination. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001;219(4):467-473. doi:10.2460/javma.2001.219.467