A dog scared of thunder is a common issue, and there are several reasons for it. Here is a more in-depth explanation of the reasons behind the “dog scared of thunder“ scenario:
- Barometric Pressure Changes. Dogs can sense the significant drop in barometric pressure or simply air pressure occurring during thunderstorms.
- Noise Phobias. Also, some dogs have noise phobias – they are scared by the sudden and loud noises produced by the thunder rumbles and the wind. Therefore, a dog’s fear of the sound of thunder is expected.
- Static Electricity Buildup. Another reason for a dog scared of thunder is the static buildup in the fur. Namely, dogs with long and dense fur easily build up static electricity in the coat. As a result, when the dog touches a metal object, it can get a small electric shock. The shock is not painful but uncomfortable and adds up to the already awkward situation.
The fearful behavior during thunderstorms can evolve into full thunderstorm anxiety, which is often accompanied by fear responses and, in extreme cases, even destructive behavior and aggression. It can even progress into separation anxiety – an even more severe dog behavior problem.
Shaking is an expected fear response in a dog scared of thunder.
Some dogs are so terrified of thunderstorms that they will run and hide when they hear the first rumble of thunder.
Others may have different fear responses that include: panting, barking, pacing, whining in fear, or exhibiting destructive behavior. In extreme cases, they can even become aggressive and try to bite their owners or other family members.
Yes, you should comfort your dog during thunder. The exact comforting method depends on the dog breed and its personality.
For some dogs, cuddles work best, while for others, it would be more efficient to leave them alone and unbothered in a safe place. As a pet owner, you must understand your dog’s anxiety and read its body language.
Managing a dog with a thunderstorm phobia can be tricky. Ideally, you can try several options to decide what works best for your dog.
Here are some popular calming options for a dog scared of thunder.
Use a Calming Vest for Dogs. A calming vest may be perfect for dogs that get anxious during storms. These vests, also known as thundershirt, use pressure points on the body to help relax the dog. This anxiety wrap produces a swaddling effect, making your pet feel much better in stressful situations such as storm anxiety.
Give Your Dog CBD. CBD for dog anxiety works wonders. Cannabidiol (CBS) is a compound found in the hemp plant and, unlike marijuana-derived CBD, doesn’t have psychoactive effects. It makes an excellent anti-anxiety medication that comes in various forms, like dog treats, oils, and peanut butter. If your dog has never taken cannabis before, start with very small doses and work up slowly until you know what works best for her body weight.
Calming Supplements. CBD is great, but it is not the only calming supplement for dogs. There are different natural supplements for dogs that promote calmness and relaxation. Usually, they feature active ingredients such as Passionflower, Valeriana, and melatonin. Pheromone collars and diffusers are also excellent calming options for a dog scared of thunder.
Provide a Safe Place. A safe space to take your pup if it is nervous or scared is a small room with no door or windows that lock. You can make a makeshift kennel out of cardboard, but ensure you leave enough room for your dog to lie comfortably. Put some blankets or towels in there for them to lay on. This will also prevent your dog from seeing the flashes of light, thus helping with its fear of thunders. If your dog has a favorite toy, put it in the kennel or safe place.
Comfort Your Dog. There are many ways in which you can comfort your dog. For example, you can rub the dog’s ears (which releases happy hormones and promotes relaxation), cuddle with it, play games, or offer mentally stimulating dog toys like a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or dog treats.
Play Music. White noise is an excellent way to drown out the sound of thunder. Some veterinary behaviorists say playing classical music has a calming effect on dogs. The idea behind white noise is that it drowns out the sounds the dog is hearing (e.g., thunder, fireworks) while still being able to hear her owner.
Desensitization or Counter-Conditioning. You can start by playing recordings of thunderstorms and fireworks at low volumes (if only for a few seconds) and gradually increase the duration over time. This behavior modification technique will help your dog get used to these sounds, overcome storm phobia and make them less frightening. This form of dog training may require the help of a certified dog behaviorist.
If you have a dog with a fear of thunderstorms, there are things dog owners can do to prepare the pets for the upcoming storm season. Here is what you can do for a dog scared of thunder:
- Reduce the Noise. Close the windows and doors, turn off fans and air conditioners, and remove noisy toys from the room.
- Tire the Dog. If a thunderstorm is expected, it would be a good idea to take your dog out for a tiring session. A tired dog is less likely to be destructive during a storm.
- Stay Calm. If you’re also nervous about the storm, try not to show it because it will only make things worse for your dog. Dogs can pick up on their owners’ feelings really fast.
- Calming Supplements. Before the thunderstorm begins, you can give your dog a calming product. That way, the product will start working before the thunders begin.