How to Calm a Dog Scared of Thunder
Does your pet turn into a scaredy dog during thunderstorms? If so, your pooch is not the only one. Thunderstorm anxiety affects many dogs and can often get worse as they age. With symptoms ranging from barking and chewing to self-injury, it can be a serious problem for both dog and the caregiver.
Hence, it is imperative for dog parents to know how to care for their pets during such instances. So, continue reading as the article takes a deep dive into understanding the trauma surrounding thunderstorms in dogs. If your dog is
Why are dogs scared of thunderstorms?
There could be multiple reasons why dogs fear thunderstorms. While vets and trainers are still not sure why dogs feel terrified by storms, there are certain theories around it.
While the loud noise of thunder is scary, unlike us, dogs can hear it from a much greater distance. We all know that dogs have more sensitive hearing as compared to humans. Hence, it is suspected that these four-legged angels get triggered by sounds we do not hear before or during thunderstorms. From lightning and wind to static electricity and low-frequency rumbles, dogs could be set off by anything. Know more about dog's body language and behavior to better understand and cater to your fur baby
The smell of the air changes when a storm approaches, and the keen nose of a dog detects storms even before we do. The air pressure changes too, and a dog's ears are more sensitive to pressure changes than most humans. In some cases, it might even hurt.
Aversion to noise
Most dogs do not like being in a noisy environment. In fact, every dog fears some type of noise. Our furry friends can feel uneasy due to fireworks, thunderstorms, or even gunfire. Hence, it is believed that noise phobia can also be a reason why some dogs get triggered by storms. Certain breeds like border collie are in fact more susceptible to develop noise phobia due to their genetic predisposition.
Tips to help your dog deal with the storm
Now that you have an idea of why your dog is scared of thunderstorms, it’s time for you to learn and alleviate your pooch’s anxiety.
Normalise calm behavior
Counter-conditioning is one of the most effective ways to deal with the symptoms of thunderstorm phobia. This method trains your pooch to be a good doggie even when it is scared. Basically, it helps your dog to focus on staying calm instead of whining, barking, or looking for a place to hide.
Adopt a neutral, matter-of-fact attitude. Your dog can quickly pick up on any uneasiness or fear on your part. Moreover, be kind and patient with your dog throughout the thunderstorm. By remaining calm and setting a good example, you will help it ride out the storm.
Don't comfort your dog when it acts afraid
Giving him hugs or special attention can reinforce his fearful behavior. Speak to him in a happy, playful voice to give him confidence. Call out your dog's name in an encouraging tone and compliment them. Never punish him for his fearful behavior. If you can get your dog to play with you during a storm, that's even better.
Provide your dog with a safe indoor place during storms
It can be his crate, a bathroom, or a closet — if your dog feels safe, let it sit there comfortably. There have been a lot of cases where dogs go missing because they ran from their fenced yards in terror during storms. But that doesn't mean you keep your pet locked inside. If you have a designated safe indoor space for your dog, be sure to leave the door open, so it doesn't feel trapped.
Play thunderstorm sounds for your dog
You can easily find thunderstorm sounds on YouTube. Start a “thunderstorm conditioning program" by first playing the sounds on extremely low volume while you go about your day-to-day activities. If your dog acts afraid again, don't attend to the fearful behavior. Redirect him to a pleasant activity, such as playing ball. Gradually increase the volume until your pooch can handle a more realistic sounding storm. This process may take several days to a few weeks.
Ask your vet for help
If your dog is extremely agitated during thunderstorms, you may want to consider medication or a natural remedy for pets. Your veterinarian can help with this if he or she thinks it’s an appropriate solution.
Frequently asked questions
Can a dog be traumatized by a thunderstorm?
Yes. Some dogs feel traumatized by the violent wind and rumbling of the thunderstorm.
Why do dogs shake during thunderstorms?
Up to 30% of dogs are scared of thunderstorms. And like humans, dogs too shake and tremble on being exposed to something that terrifies them.
Should I comfort my dog during thunder?
As a caregiver, you might want to hold your dog close during a thunderstorm. However, the right thing to do is letting your fur baby stay in its safe space. If you see your pet hiding in its crate, it’s probably because it feels safe there. So, let it be. Moreover, do not punish your dog for any kind of bad behavior like howling or destroying furniture during a thunderstorm.
Will my dog ever stop being scared of thunder?
Phobia of storms is common in dogs, and they do not grow out of it on their own. In fact, it is imperative that you seek professional help because the condition keeps getting worse for some. As a dog parent, you can distract your pooch with calming music or a massage as well.