Help! My Dog Is Afraid of Thunderstorms!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 03:30:39 PM America/Los_Angeles

Does your furry friend become frieghtened, desperate or paralyzed by thunderstorms?

You're not alone. As a dog lover, it might give you some solace to know this response isn’t unique to your dog. Experts estimate that up to 30 percent of dogs are affected by the rumblings of thunderstorms to a certain degree.

The summer season is fast-approaching, and as is the norm, the sky will darken, thunder will rumble, and rain will come pouring down in many parts of the country. Your dog may enter into a state of panic, pace, pant uncontrollably, tuck their tail or run to hide somewhere that seems more secure. It's important to make sure your dog is kept indoors whenever you think a storm is coming. You wouldn't want your dog to run away in a panic, looking for a place to hide ouside. Be sure to keep an indoor dog potty like DoggieLawn in your home until the storm passes. 

Although thunderstorms terrify some dogs, others are indifferent to the sound and lightning. Read on to learn why dogs become scared and how to soothe them when thunderstorms are on the horizon. 

scared dog

Why Are Dogs Scared of Thunderstorms?

Dogs are afraid of thunderstorms because they don't quite understand what's causing the loud noises and perceive thunderstorms as something threatening.

Sure, the noise is what triggers fear, but the unsettling roaring sound is just a part of what causes the fear. 

Studies by researchers and veterinarians reveal that during thunderstorms, dogs enter into a state of panic due to the uncomfortable feeling of the static electricity. It just so happens that the static charges prompt a feeling of tingling on the dogs’ fur, which they might find unsettling.                                                                                 

According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman of the Cummings School of Medicine at Tufts University, your dog will likely experience not one but several shocks from static electricity.

                                                    By MoBuay via shutterstock

How to Soothe & Protect Dogs Who Suffers Extreme Thunderstorm Anxiety

When thunder roars and lighting flashes, your dog may become terrified as they are unaware of what’s happening.

It can be a disheartening experience to watch your canine friend suffer helplessly as they search for places to bury their head. If you find your dog doesn't want to leave their den, having a indoor dog potty will provide safe access to a potty. 

Here are some ways you can help your friend manage anxiety during the seemingly unending duration of thunderstorms and lightning.

Create a Distraction

Petfinder recommends that whenever thunderstorms start, you can provide a distraction or background noise so that it somewhat drowns out the thunder. Reportedly, classical music can have a calming effect and lower thunderstorm sensitivity and anxiety. You can also utilize famailiar white noise such as the dryer or the laundry machine to help soften the cracking noise of the thunder.

Another option is to play with your pooch to help keep their minds off the thunderstorms and lightning and consequently lower anxiety. If your dog is sensitive to thunderstorms, it's critical to have your dog potty trained and given an indoor potty. That way, not only will they have a safe place indoors, but they'll be less likely to make a mess during as a state of heightened anxiety.

Consider Thunder Treats

If your dog has a mild case of storm anxiety, you could use simple counterconditioning techniques to ease the anxiety. Bring your dog’s favorite toy or get an extra yummy long-lasting treat like chicken or cheese to engage their senses and distract them from the noise.

Pairing the storm with something your dog loves will help condition them to associate the loud thunder noise to something enjoyable according to an animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell.

Counterconditioning is an especially effective approach for preventing puppies who’ve had little to no exposure to thunderstorms from developing a phobia.

Create a Comfy Place for Your Dog to Hide

During storms, it's common for dogs to run in a panic searching for places to hide. Your furry friend may go under the table or into a bathtub, where they'll feel secure. As long as it's a safe place for your dog, let them stay. 

Moreover, you might consider creating a comfortable place for your dog to hide. For instance, designate some space in your house, such as the basement without windows, to serve as a dog’s den. If you know that your dog has a favorite place to hide, prepare the space by placing pillows, blanks, and an indoor potty solution to provide a safe haven where they can be for longer periods of time comfortably.

If that’s not possible, get a crate and add some cozy pillows, let your dog jump inside and then cover them with a blanket until the storm is over. It'll also be important to let your dog know that they don't need to go outside in the storm if they have to go to the bathroom. Bring them over to their DoggieLawn so they know that there's a clean dry place to relieve themselves throughout the duration of the storm. 

Calming Jackets

You could also consider buying a storm defender for your furry friend. During a thunderstorm, changes in the atmosphere lead to the build-up of static electricity which can cause unsettling shocks. Storm defenders feature a silver anti-static lining and help block the static electricity.

Some pet parents have reported promising results whith products such as Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap to manage thunder-phobia. Calming jackets apply gentle and steady pressure comparable to sartorial acupressure. They provide dogs the feeling of being gently held.

Cuddle Away

Snuggles are highly therapeutic. Sooth and reassure your dog that all will be fine as you cuddle. You can move your DoggieLawn near the couch for easy access for the duration of the storm. Avoid scolding behavior or frantic movements as this will heighten the anxiety.

Seek Help from a Certified Veterinary Behaviorist

Managing your dog's thunder-phobia takes some trial and error to see what approach will work best for your dog's personality and preferences. If nothing else seems to help manage the anxiety, don’t let your dog suffer. A veterinarian with expertise in severe cases of dog anxiety can help. A veterinarian can recommend medication that may be beneficial for calming your dog during thunderstorms.

Just make sure you don’t go overboard or make a fuss out of it. While it’s noble to feel concerned about the safety of your dog, it turns that too much sympathy may aggravate the problem. Sympathizing too much and excessively comforting your dog can actually reinforce his fear of the storms. 

The rumbling of thunderstorms can be scary both to humans and dogs. As such, always be there to soothe and protect your dog. DoggieLawn is a company that offers pet parents like you with an all natural, convenient pet potty solutions for dog use throughout. Our DoggieLawn real grass provides your dog easy access to the bathroom, has no strong odor associated with pee pads and other litter boxes and saves you the clean-up trouble. If you have a friend whose dog could benefit from a DoggieLawn you can use THIS LINK to send them a discount.