Is your dog scared of thunder and lightning? Find out why some dogs have this phobia and what you can do to help them relax during storms.
Thunderstorms can be terrifying for dogs. They may bark, whine, tremble, hide, or even try to escape. This can be stressful for both you and your dog. But why are dogs so afraid of thunderstorms?
And what can you do to calm them down? In this blog post, we will explain the causes and signs of thunderstorm anxiety in dogs, and give you some practical tips on how to help your dog cope.
You will learn about the sounds that annoy dogs and the best places to keep your dog during a storm.
Why Are Some Dogs Afraid of Thunder and Lightning?
There are several possible reasons why some dogs develop a fear or phobia of thunder and lightning. Some of them are:
Lack of socialization
Dogs that are not exposed to different sounds, sights, and situations as puppies may become fearful of unfamiliar stimuli later in life.
This is because they have a critical socialization period that ends around 12 to 14 weeks of age, during which they need to learn what is normal and safe in their environment.
Dogs that have had a bad experience related to thunderstorms, such as being left alone, injured, or punished during a storm, may associate the noise and light with pain, fear, or loneliness.
Some breeds of dogs are more prone to developing noise phobias than others, such as German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, and Border Collies. This may be due to their genetic makeup or their original purpose as working or herding dogs.
Dogs have much more sensitive hearing than humans, and they can hear sounds at higher frequencies and volumes than we can.
They can also smell the moisture in the air, feel the changes in barometric pressure, and since the static electricity generated by storms.
These sensory cues may alert them of impending danger or threat that we cannot perceive.
To illustrate how common thunderstorm phobia is among dogs, here is a table that shows the percentage of dogs that show signs of fear or anxiety during storms according to a recent study.
How to Help Your Dog Cope with Thunderstorm Phobia
If your dog is afraid of thunder and lightning, there are some things you can do to help them feel more secure and calm during storms. Here are some of them:
Provide a safe space
The best thing you can do for your dog is to let them go to their safe space where they feel comfortable and familiar. This could be their crate, bed, closet, or any other cozy spot where they can hide from the noise and light.
Provide background noise
Another way to reduce your dog’s anxiety is to provide some background noise that can mask or muffle the sound of thunder and lightning. You can play some soothing music, white noise, or even turn on the TV or fan.
Provide toys, treats, and comfort
You can also help your dog cope by giving them something positive to focus on during the storm. You can offer them their favorite toys, treats, chews, or puzzles that can keep them busy and entertained.
Use pressure vests or wraps
Some dogs may benefit from wearing a pressure vest or wrap that applies gentle pressure on their body. This can have a calming effect on them by releasing endorphins and reducing stress hormones.
Use anti-static products
Some dogs may be sensitive to the static electricity that builds up in their fur during storms. This can cause them discomfort or even shock when they touch metal objects or people.
Use medication or supplements
In some cases, your dog may need some medication or supplements to help them cope with their phobia. You can consult your veterinarian about the best options for your dog, such as anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives, or natural remedies like CBD oil or melatonin.
Use desensitization and counterconditioning
These are behavioral techniques that can help your dog overcome their fear of thunder and lightning by gradually exposing them to the stimuli and associating them with positive outcomes.
Desensitization involves playing recordings of thunder and lightning at a low volume and slowly increasing it over time, while counterconditioning involves rewarding your dog with treats or praise when they show calm behavior during the exposure.
These techniques require patience and consistency, and they may not work for all dogs.