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StoryApril 29, 2024

How to Calm a Dog During a Storm


Storms can be a frightening experience for our canine companions. Loud thunder and flashes of lightning can send some dogs into an anxious tailspin. You can help your furry friend weather the storm with these tips to comfort your dog.

1. Look for signs of storm anxiety

Pacing, whining, excessive barking, seeking safe spots, hiding, shaking and panting can all be signs that your dog is experiencing storm anxiety. Some dogs may even vomit or have diarrhea as a result of their fear.

2. Stay with your dog

If your dog fears thunderstorms, being alone worsens anxiety. If you’re unavailable, arrange a trusted friend or neighbor to stay with them. Your emotions affect your dog, so stay calm. Speak soothingly and maintain relaxed body language.

3. Offer distractions and counter noise

Distract your dog with toys, games, treats, calming music, or TV. If storms are loud, use fans, white noise machines, or low-volume thunderstorm sound recordings.

4. Provide a safe space and use calming remedies

Dogs often feel secure in enclosed areas. Use a crate or a closed-off bathroom/closet. Options like Thundershirts, calming collars, pheromone diffusers, and vet-prescribed medications can help.

5. Practice desensitization and seek professional help

Storm anxiety doesn’t have to continue to plague your dog. Gradually expose your dog to storm sounds, rewarding calm behavior.Consult a certified animal behaviorist for severe cases.

Why Dogs Fear Thunder

Thunder can be particularly frightening for your dog for several reasons:

  • Loud noises: Dogs’ superior hearing amplifies thunder’s impact.
  • Unfamiliar sounds: Thunder’s rarity confuses and frightens dogs.
  • Air pressure changes: Storm-related air pressure shifts unsettle dogs.
  • Lightning: Dogs associate lightning with loud noises and fear being struck.
  • Past experiences. Negative past encounters with thunder amplify fear.

Senses Help Dogs Detect Storms

Experts suggest dogs might intuitively sense storms, but no evidence supports this. However, dogs’ senses can help them detect a storm before you do.

  • Hearing: Dogs hear distant thunder, which startles them.
  • Smell: Dogs detect pre-storm air changes through heightened smell.
  • Barometric pressure: Dogs sense shifts preceding storms.
  • Static electricity: Dogs feel uncomfortable with storm-induced static electricity.

Remember, each dog is unique. Patience, understanding, and support are key in helping dogs cope with thunderstorm anxiety. With time and practice, you can help make storms a less scary experience for your furry friend.