My dog Shaggy is a fun little fella. Shaggy has an outgoing, quirky, and curious personality, and he is not usually scared of things except for one thing, which is thundering. Whenever it is thundering, my dog is no longer the radiant pooch he is; instead, he starts acting anxiously.
If you own a dog, you might have faced the same situation. Most of the time, dogs find thundering a disturbing occurrence; hence it is likely to see them trembling, shaking, and trying to hide when it is thundering.
What makes dogs scared of thundering? If you need to find answers to this question, this article is for you.
So, why are dogs scared of thunder? Simplest and the most common answer to this question is dogs’ fear of loud noises. Dogs are not huge fans of loud noises. Dogs have highly sensitive hearing capacity. They can hear things way better than humans; loud noises make them scared and frustrated. Noise phobias are not something bizarre among dogs, so that becomes a dominant reason that makes them fearful of thunder.
On top of it, when there’s a thunderstorm, several environmental changes occur simultaneously; dogs sense such changes strongly, and some dogs could find it uncomfortable, so they act scared. Although this happens among a lot of dogs, there are tips and tricks that one can follow to help the dog overcome the fear.
Despite the fact that dogs typically have brave and courageous personalities, some things and instances make dogs scared and nervous. While dogs learn certain things independently, dog owners also have a fair deal of things to teach a dog.
If you own a pet dog, it is essential that you are aware of what makes them scared and what they are afraid of.
You have to take action to teach your pet to cope with it and eventually overcome such fear. This article focuses on dogs’ fear of thunderstorms.
Without further ado, let’s get into details.
Why are dogs scared of thunder?
You might have heard that dogs do not prefer loud and disturbing noises. Thundering, for instance, makes them scared and act anxious.
Why do loud noises scare dogs, and are there any reasons that make them scared of thunder other than noise? Below you can find the common reasons why dogs are afraid of thunder.
- Canine noise aversion
This might sound like a complex term, but the meaning is not as complex as it seems. This condition is referred to as anxiety or phobia caused by loud noises.
We human beings have phobias for certain things, and so do dogs. Dogs’ phobia of noises tends to be one of the common reasons that makes them scared of thunder.
Keep in mind that although loud noises are generally considered to scare dogs, not all dogs develop canine noise aversion. Some may inherit this genetically.
You can easily diagnose canine noise aversion by observing their behavior. If the dog often tries to hide and act nervous when they hear loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms, that is a sign that your dog is anxious about noises.
Due to their potent senses, dogs are naturally susceptible to noises; however, it is not always possible to tell if that’s the only reason that makes them afraid of loud noises.
While some dogs get scared of thunder, there could also be ones who are not frightened of it.
- Uncomfort caused by electricity
Thunderstorms discharge electricity, but how does it bother your pet dog? As explained by Dr. Nicolas Dodman, Dogs may experience numerous shocks from static electricity during thunderstorms.
Once again, this might not affect every dog the same way; however, this could likely bother furry dogs.
The way they feel when static electricity tingles their fur tends to feel irritating and uncomfortable.
- A feeling of a threat
Loud noises can often make dogs suspect things. When it’s thundering, a dog does not have the ability to understand that it is an environmental occurrence, so it will make suspicious and afraid of it simply because they do not know what exactly it is.
Why do dogs shake during thunderstorms?
When dogs are scared of people or incidents, they indicate unusual or different behavior. In most cases, when a dog is scared, they shake, trembles excessively, drools, and even acts destructively.
During thunderstorms, it is not unusual to see how your pet dog starts to tremble. Why do dogs shake when thundering?
As already pointed out, the closest reason to this is the scary feeling that they get. Shaking is a natural way dogs react to extreme emotions, including difficult and tense situations.
Due to their sensitivity or genetics, some dogs can be terrified of thunderstorms, and the fear is physically expressed through shaking.
Furthermore, as discussed in the previous section, static electricity, which also bothers dogs, could also lead them to tremble.
As demonstrated by experts, during thunderstorms, static electricity is felt by dogs through their fur, generating an unpleasant tingling sensation which is another reason why they shake.
How do you calm a dog down during a thunderstorm?
Suppose you have noticed your dog shaking, trembling, or attempting to hide in a corner when it is thundering; that clearly shows that thundering makes your dog scared.
If that is the case, how will you help your furry friend? Below are some easy actions you can take to help your pet dog.
- Socialize the dog and teach him things
Calming them in a thunderstorm might not be something you can do at the very moment it happens.
As mentioned, dogs develop a fear of thunder because they do not know what exactly thundering is. For them, it is a loud noise, and it terrifies them. How can socialization help your dog to overcome this?
You cannot teach a dog the logic behind thundering, but you can teach your pet dog to experience new things rather being trapped in a bubble.
Start the socialization process at the youngest age because puppies learn things better and faster than grown-up dogs.
When you teach a puppy to interact and get exposed to new phenomena, although they get scared of loud noises due to sensitivity, they will learn to cope because they have previous experience merging with unfamiliar and challenging occurrences.
- Distract the dog
When there’s a thunderstorm going on, take action to distract the dog from it. The more your dog gets distracted, the more it will feel better.
Try to do something that draws the dog’s attention to something else. Perhaps you can play with them using a toy or simply be around them and pet them for a bit, making them less distracted and tense.
Dogs prefer having some company when they are scared, so do not leave them alone when it’s thundering.
- Provide them with a safe space to be during the storm
If your dog is scared of thundering, never keep them outside the house. Dogs might still be frightened by thunderstorm noise inside a house.
So in such a time, do not keep the curtains wide open; keeping the dog in a room or somewhere that they can hear less noise and see less of the storm will help them stay calm.
- Desensitize the dog
Desensitizing the dog is another way to teach your dog to stay calm during a thunderstorm. Simply put, decentralizing refers to training the dog to similar noises beforehand.
You can play CDs that contain noises from thunderstorms. Do not commence with intense audio tracks at the beginning.
Start with less noise once, and eventually, you can increase it, and it helps the dog familiarize with that noise, and with time the dog will not get scared of it.
- Get professional help
Sometimes no matter how much you try different mechanisms to keep the dog calm, it would still act anxiously in a thunderstorm.
If that is the case, it is advisable to take them to a vet and get professional advice. Although not every dog needs anxiety medications and remedies, some dogs need them.
So the sooner you take action, the easier you will find it to solve the issue.
Final thoughts about dog’s fear of thunder
Many dogs act scared and attempt to hide during thunderstorms. Dogs have strong senses; therefore, they find loud noises disturbing. So most dogs get anxious during thundering.
However, there are specific actions that dog parents take in order to help the dog to cope with such a situation. If you take action from the youngest age as the dog grows up, you will find it easier to solve the issues.
There are instances where some dogs develop a fear of thunder as a genetic condition, and sometimes you will find it hard to help the dog to get over it.
You can start with small actions at home and try to calm the dog; however, if it doesn’t seem to do any better, it is wise to get professional advice.
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