What to do when your dog is scared of thunder?
Dealing with a dog that fears thunder can be a challenging and stressful experience for both you and your fur child. As a dog mum myself, if I ever witnessed Harry, my groodle panting and uncontrollably shaking during a thunderstorm it would pain me to my core.
So why is it that dogs fear thunder? Is it the noise, the accompanying lightning, or just some eerie change in the atmosphere they can sense?
Well, experts agree that it purely comes down to an individual dog’s triggers and phobias. This also applies to the severity of their reactions. An anxious dog might bolt, or even hurt themselves in a blind panic, whereas some may cower in small, confined spaces.
Nonetheless, no one wants to see their dog distressed.
Thankfully, there are several strategies I have found to help your dog feel more comfortable and secure during thunderstorms.
- Create a safe space: A secure, familiar place can help your dog feel more at ease during a thunderstorm. This could be a crate, a small room, or even just a cosy corner of your home with their favourite blanket or dog bed.
- Desensitise with audio: Gradual exposure to recorded thunder sounds can help your dog get used to the noise and reduce their fear. Start with a low volume and gradually increase it over time. It can also help giving your dog a bone or long-lasting dog treats like the Pet Botanica Deer Antlers or Fancy Feet Cow Hooves to keep them occupied and distracted. This may not be the best option for some dogs.
- Use natural calming herbs: Natural dog-friendly herbs are the paw-fect substitute for pharmaceutical drugs like Valium and Xanax1 .
With natural anti-anxiety relief herbs like Chamomile and Valerian root, our super blend Calming Pooch Brew formula will help to calm your dog’s nervous systems to better process their emotional response when in distress 2.
- Exercise: Just like in us humans, exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which reduce anxiety such as that experienced during thunder 3.
Not only does physical activity help release excess energy in your dog’s body, but it also provides mental stimulation which can help distract your dog from stressful stimuli.
Next time, try taking your dog on a walk, or playing fetch.
- Get your dog a Thunder Jacket: This sounds very superhero-ish but it might just save the day!
Thunder jackets, also known as anxiety vests, can help when a dog is scared of thunder by providing a calming and snug pressure around their bodies, like a hug.
The jackets pressure helps to reduce stress and anxiety during storms, fireworks, or other fearful events so it’s a great asset to have on hand for an anxious dog.
By using a combination of the listed modification and environmental techniques, it is possible to relieve your dog’s anxiety around thunder. Yes, it may take you some time to see what works best for your dog, but creating a safe and secure space for your dog, using positive reinforcement and yummy dog treats to associate positive experiences during the thunder, improvements to your dog’s fear can be achieved.
With patience and persistence, you can help your dog feel more comfortable and relaxed during thunderstorms. It is important to consult with a veterinarian or a professional animal behaviourist if your dog’s anxiety is severe and persistent, as they may be able to provide additional help and guidance.
View recommended products below for when your dog is scared of thunder
1. Abascal, K., & Yarnell, E. (2004). Nervine Herbs for Treating Anxiety. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 10(6), 309–315. https://doi.org/10.1089/act.2004.10.309
2. Allen, M. J., Sabir, S., & Sandeep Sharma. (2020, July 26). GABA Receptor. Retrieved from Nih.gov website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526124/#:~:text=Gamma%2Daminobutyric%20acid%20(GABA)
3. Hasin, D., Pampori, Z. A., Aarif, O., Bulbul, K. H., Sheikh, A. A., & Bhat, I. A. (2018). Happy hormones and their significance in animals and man. International Journal of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry, 3(5), 100-103.