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Dogs are like kids; they can get scared of thunder. And as the sky rumbles, you must know what to do to comfort your frightened pooch. And since dogs have a stronger sense of hearing, they hear thunder louder than humans. In this post, we will help you with how to calm a scared dog from thunder and storms using simple steps.
Why is my dog scared of thunder?
One of the leading causes of thunder fright is the loud sound. Thunder and storms are unpredictable that’s why it can startle dogs. To be fair, humans can get shocked by thunder as well.
Unlike humans, dogs can hear static electricity, lightning, thunder, wind, and even barometric pressure. All of these are ingredients to anxiety.
Also, dogs that are prone to separation anxiety are more likely to get scared of thunder.
But how come some dogs don’t seem to be scared? Like humans, dogs have varying personalities and tolerances to various triggers.
Sometimes, it’s not the loud thunder that scares the dog, but the low-frequency rumbles that humans can’t hear. The loud rumbles will only worsen the anxiety.
Some dogs will be afraid of thunder but not of gunshots. Meanwhile, some would be scared of fireworks, but will not mind sitting by the window with rumbling thunder.
There’s no easy fix for this problem. According to veterinarians, each dog requires a different approach based on its behavior and the household where it lives. Also, dogs experience static shocks during storms, which may fuel their fright.
In this video, ThunderWorks for Dogs & Cats tells us more about the behavior changes in dogs that occur during a thunderstorm:
How to calm a scared dog from thunder
Although it’s not easy to deal with the thunder and storm anxiety of canines, there’s something you can do. The following tips can help calm an anxious canine:
Create a safe space for the canine
The first thing you should do is give your pet a safe space. It starts by being present on your dog’s side. We recommend bringing the pooch to an enclosed room where the sound of thunder is least heard. You can consider the basement.
Bring all your dog’s comfort items: bed, toys, blankies, and some treats. Make a cozy corner where your dog can nestle and wait until the storm subsides. Never leave your dog behind as it will only defeat your efforts.
If your dog is a cuddler, you can snuggle with the pooch during the storm. This will help a lot in calming their nerves.
Don’t scold your dog
Many pet owners are guilty of scolding their dogs when it starts going bonkers during a storm. Take note that fright isn’t a behavioral problem. It’s a reaction to a trigger. Scolding your dog will only make the matter worse.
Instead, try to calm your dog by bringing it to an enclosed room. Follow our tips above to help reduce the anxiety of your doggo.
Shouting and hurting your dog will not do any good.
Play some soothing music
Another thing you can do is to compete with the sound. You can flood the thunder with soothing music you can look up on the internet. Look for sounds designed for dogs like ‘Through a Dog’s Ear’. It comes in several volumes and is a compilation of soothing sounds that will help calm down a frightened canine.
You can also try turning the television or radio on to defeat the sound of thunder. White noise machines will also help. Try to make other sounds so your dog will not hear the thunder too much. You can even put headphones on your dog. Just make sure that the music isn’t too loud as your pooch has sensitive ears.
Diffuse relaxing oils
While your dog is listening to the soothing music, you can also diffuse some relaxing oils like lavender. Still, you must ask the vet if it’s safe for your pooch. Use only a few drops as dogs have an equally strong sense of smell as much as they have a strong sense of hearing.
Avoid very overpowering scents as it will only irritate your dog’s nose.
Distract your dog’s anxiety
During a thunderstorm, it will help a lot if you distract your dog. Pet the dog gently so they will get stimulated by physical touch to reduce their anxiety. While in the basement, you can play fetch with your dog to keep their mind off the sound of thunder. Mind games also work great during these situations.
Also, a high-value treat will keep the dog occupied during a thunderstorm. As you see, knowing how to calm a scared dog from thunder takes a little creativity.
Wrap the pooch in a thick blanket
Dogs are denning animals so they seek cramped spaces to feel safe. You can mimic this behavior in the wild by wrapping the dog in a warm and thick blanket. Some use the Thundershirt jacket, which provides mild pressure all over your dog’s torso. This is said to calm dogs with anxiety, especially in the midst of a storm.
Snug garments have long been known to calm dogs with anxiety. It somehow mimics the feeling of swaddling among babies. If a Thundershirt or blankie isn’t available, you can use your own shirt to wrap your dog. Your scent will also help calm your dog.
Desensitize your doggo
Once the thunderstorm has passed, you must take the time to desensitize your dog before the next storm. You can play recordings of thunder at a low volume around your dog. You should increase the volume bit by it, ensuring that your dog will not go nuts when hearing the sound.
However, you should note that artificial desensitization can only do so much. You’re only mimicking the sound, but not the actual pressure drop and potential static shocks that dogs might experience.
Still, this is a great way to prepare your dog for the next storm.
One way on how to calm a scared dog from thunder is to counter condition your dog to thunderstorms. This fancy term means you’re going to associate the sound of thunder to something positive instead of negative.
Here’s a great example: if your dog has a favorite toy, keep it away and show it only during thunderstorms. You can also give the pooch an extra special treat that it doesn’t taste on normal days.
This process serves both as a distraction and counterconditioning to the dog. Over time, the pooch can outgrow its fears and it will be replaced with a positive association with thunder.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I give my dog Benadryl to calm it during a storm?
A: Given that you give the right dose, yes, Benadryl is a good way on how to calm a scared dog from thunder. We recommend asking the vet ahead of time before administering the substance to your pooch.
Q: Can a dog sense a storm coming?
A: Yes, and there’s a simple science behind it. Dogs don’t have ESP; it just happened that they can sense barometric pressure changes. Also, dogs sense and feel static fields. And even if you don’t hear it, canines can sense low-frequency rumbles.
Q: How will I know if my dog will be afraid of thunder?
A: If your pooch is startled by loud sounds or tucks its tail upon hearing a sudden thud, it’s possible that it will be scared of thunder. Unfortunately, the only way of knowing is waiting for the storm to come. That way, you can prepare your pooch for the next storm season.
Q: Can a dog die due to fright during thunderstorms?
A: It’s very, very rare for dogs to die due to fright on thunderstorms. Still, it can happen if your dog has heart problems and is susceptible to heart attacks. It’s not usual, but it can happen under specific circumstances.
Q: Will my dog’s fear of thunder go away on its own?
A: Some pet owners think that letting their dog get used to the sound of thunder will fix its anxiety. This isn’t how it works. Some dogs tend to develop worse cases of anxiety when their owners just let them be during the storm.
Knowing how to calm a scared dog from thunder is very important. This way, your dog can go through the storm without being too anxious. As the pet owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your dog is safe physically, mentally, and emotionally from the effects of any calamity.
Is your dog also afraid of thunder? How did you deal with it? Let us know below!