This article will show you why dogs are afraid of thunder and what you can do to ease your dog’s storm anxiety below.
Fear of thunder is a common phobia in dogs. It is usually marked by hiding, whining, barking, pawing, or even urination. Unfortunately, dogs cannot express their fears in words and must communicate in body language that might be difficult for their owners to translate.
Thunderstorm anxiety is terrifying for a dog and is heartbreaking for an owner to watch. Most of us believe it’s about the noise, but that’s not the whole story.
Learning why dogs don’t like storms will help you comfort your pet when the rain starts. It could be a game-changer for you both.
First, it’s important to remember that fear responses are not voluntary. For example, a dog doesn’t decide to feel and exhibit fear of storms.
The amygdala, a part of the brain which processes both negative and positive emotions, is a part of the central nervous system that is not under voluntary control.
Thunderstorm Phobia Triggers
In many cases, dogs show signs of panic even before the storm has arrived because of their keen sense of hearing and ability to sense pressure changes in the atmosphere.
The smell of the air also changes when a storm approaches, and the sensitive nose detects this early.
Thus, the effects of the thunderstorm on dogs prone to thunderstorm anxiety are multi-factorial and include:
- Static electricity
- Barometric pressure drop
Many dogs have different noise phobias, from fireworks and gunfire to thunderstorms.
A noise phobia can be the primary reason your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, or it could just be one of several factors that add to your furry friend having a phobia
2. Static Electricity
Electricity in the air may be another significant factor in dog storm phobia. The reality is that thunderstorms charge the air with electricity, making it easier for the static buildup to occur in your furry friend’s coat.
It’s even easier for static to build up in larger dogs and those with double or long coats.
3. Barometric Pressure Drop
Changes in barometric pressure are caused by changes in the atmosphere, which are often small things you can’t notice on your own. For example, stormy weather can cause the pressure to drop, while fair weather can typically help maintain a rising barometric pressure.
Dropping barometric pressure, which dogs can sense, coupled with darkening skies, wind, and the sheer noise of thunder, can cause fearful reactions in dogs.
How to Help a Dog That is Afraid of Thunder?
If your dog has astraphobia or storm anxiety, there are several things you can do to help keep it calm when a storm is on the horizon.
Managing storm fears behaviorally change the dog’s emotional state from frightened and distressed to neutral or even content.
1. Don’t Punish or Cuddle
When dealing with this phobia, it is important not to punish your dog for being anxious or cuddling them too much, as this can exacerbate the problem.
In addition, punishing your dog will only make them more afraid and anxious since they will associate thunder with fear and punishment.
On the other hand, giving him hugs or special attention can reinforce his fearful behavior.
2. Be Calm
Dogs can detect changes in human behavior, so it’s essential to remain calm and behave normally during their distress. Making a big fuss only proves that there is a good reason to panic.
Don’t be tense during storms. Be upbeat with the dog, not impatient or pitying with your touch or voice. The dog will pick up on your emotions and body language, so make them confident.
3. Give Your Dog a Safe Place
Be sure to provide your dog with a safe place to be during storms. Dog crates, under a bed or a chair, are common hiding places for dogs. Your dog chooses these locations as it makes them feel protected, and the frightening noise is muffled.
Close the blinds or curtains of any windows so it can’t see outside. Some people also report their dogs do better with some background noise from television or radio.
4. Prepare for the Next Thunderstorm
The key is to desensitize your dog to the sound of thunder or the other stimuli associated with thunder. Desensitization needs to be done gradually.
First, you want to get your dog used to the sound of thunder and see it as usual. This is usually done by playing recorded thunder at low volume and short intervals.
The thunder sound should come irregularly to simulate real thunder. At the same time, you’re doing this to monitor your dog’s behavior.
Try to distract them while the noise is present by playing fetch or engaging in some enjoyable activity.