If you own a dog scared of thunder, you may have noticed that the behavior of your dog drastically changes every time a storm comes around. Dogs with otherwise normal behavior can start to act strangely, displaying odd behavior like pacing, hiding, clinging to their owners, and more. But fear not: being scared of thunderstorms is something that many dogs experience. While it can be reassuring to understand that this behavior is solely due to their fear of the storm, the side effects can be a little much when overly anxious pups begin to claw through drywall or start ripping up carpets. Heres why your dog reacts this way and how to calm them down.
How To Calm A Dog Scared Of Thunder
What triggers storm phobia for dogs?
Its difficult to say what sets dogs off exactly when a storm is approaching or in full effect. Veterinarians think that dogs might be set off by a combination of the elements happening that accompany storms. So what are some of the storm triggers for dogs?
Changes in barometric pressure
Low frequency rumbles only dogs can hear
Static build up
Dogs often experience more anxiety as it gets further into storm season. Why does this happen? Dogs may be more sensitive to these storm related changes and react accordingly. Other times, owners have reported that their dogs suddenly began to act differently when a storm was approaching or in progress where before they were perfectly fine before. These changes in pressure, weather, and more may be the cause for your poochs sudden change in behavior, but no one knows for sure. There is a theory that dogs who are of certain breeds may be more predisposed to being affected by storms. Some dogs with anxiety related to other issues may be also afraid of storms, but some dogs only exhibit these anxiety-ridden behaviors to storms alone. While the jury is still out on the exact causes of pet anxiety, there are ways to help your dog cope with their fear.
How To Help Your Dog Calm Down
1. Help them deal with it early
If your dog is exhibiting signs of odd behavior when a storm is approaching or happening, whether extreme or mild, take it seriously! Your dog is still suffering from fear even if they are just hiding somewhere. Since storm phobia more often than not does not go away on its own, step into action to help your dog deal with this early in life so that they are not continually suffering or getting increasingly worse.
2. Take pity on them
Many pet owners do not try to calm their pets down because in their mind, they think that it will encourage their dog to keep on behaving negatively during a thunderstorm. But your pets are actually very scared! Its no time to ignore them and think that you are helping them. Dont administer tough love it wont improve their situation. Dont ignore them, and dont punish them for having anxiety. Itll only make the situation worse and your poor dog will be scared even more.
3. Give them positive attention and treats when storms happen
For puppies and dogs, giving them a little extra attention and love as well as snacks prior to big thunderstorms can really help them to calm down. They get that extra comfort from their owner (and fellow pack member) being with them in solidarity and reassuring them that its okay. Also, if they know that storms are coming but theyre going to get treats it can help them calm down as well.
4. Let them hide if they want to
Dogs dont have the same drive to cope the way humans do. Actually, maybe their behavior is a little similar. Just like humans can run and hide in a scary situation, dogs have the same impulse. Its a natural psychological defense for them. Dogs who were crate-trained and feel comfortable there have a tendency to go hide there when scared. Allow them to go to their hiding place. Itll make them feel better!
5. Provide soothing music or noise
Giving your dog a comfortable and enclosed place for them to calm down and provide some soothing music or noise in there for them to help them calm down. A white noise machine, radio, or calming music can really help your dog calm down.
6. Take into account the electromagnetic radiation
Lightning that accompanies thunder can often cause electromagnetic radiation, which may affect your dog negatively. It may sound crazy, but covering your dog with a layer of aluminum foil or a specially made cape can help protect them from the electromagnetic radiation.
7. Consider calming drugs
Your vet may be able to provide your dog with some calming drugs that help your dog to deal with anxiety. No one likes to resort to drugs for their pets, but sometimes, if it helps them calm down it can be worth it.
8. Consider natural therapies
There are natural aromas out there that may help your dog to calm down like Dog Appeasing Pheromone, available in a diffuser, spray, or collar.
Owners dont always know how to calm a dog scared of thunder. Just learning tips and tricks and applying them may be able to soothe your pup and ease their storm-related tension. If these methods dont work, consider seeing a veterinary behaviorist. They may be able to help.