Dog Thunderstorm Anxiety: Tips to Help Your Furry Friend Stay Calm

Dog Thunderstorm Anxiety: Tips to Help Your Furry Friend Stay Calm

Being a dog lover, it can be heart-wrenching to see your normally calm and composed pup become stressed during a thunderstorm. While some dogs may show mild signs of anxiety, such as paw licking, others can become so overwhelmed that they exhibit destructive behavior. In order to better understand why some dogs hate thunderstorms, we spoke with Trista Miller, a certified dog trainer and evaluator. Here’s what we uncovered.

The Fear of Thunderstorms

Trainers and experts may not have all the answers as to why dogs fear thunderstorms, but according to Miller, it largely has to do with the loud sounds. Dogs have incredibly sensitive hearing, which allows them to detect thunder long before humans do. This heightened sense of hearing makes them more susceptible to feeling anxious during storms. Additionally, Miller believes that dogs may also be sensitive to changes in air pressure and even static electricity. There may be unseen factors that dogs can perceive, adding to their unease.

Soothing Tips for Your Canine Companion

When a thunderstorm strikes and your dog starts to feel nervous, there are several techniques you can employ to help them stay calm and composed.

1. Give Them a Safe Space

One of the best things you can do for your dog is to allow them access to their safe space. Miller suggests that dogs enjoy retreating to a cozy location, such as their crate or a dark closet, during a storm. This type of enclosed space creates a sense of security, preventing anything from surprising them. Providing them with a familiar and comfortable environment can be incredibly soothing for your four-legged friend.

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2. Provide Background Noise

Reducing your dog’s exposure to the actual sounds of thunder and lightning can significantly decrease their stress levels. Alongside creating a safe space that is dark and covered, try providing background noise to minimize stimulation. Just like humans, dogs can feel uneasy when they are caught off guard by loud noises. Adding a soothing element to the environment can help alleviate their anxiety.

Miller suggests playing white noise or classical music, as these sounds have a calming effect on dogs. In addition, using a soothing tone while speaking to your dog and gently petting them can provide further comfort.

3. Soothe Your Dog with Engaging Activities

Chewing and puzzle toys can be great distractions for your dog during a thunderstorm. These activities act as self-soothing behaviors that can help alleviate their anxiety. If your dog naturally gravitates towards chewing or licking when they are upset, providing them with positive outlets for these behaviors can be incredibly beneficial.

Miller recommends purchasing toys like the Lickimat, which can be smeared with peanut butter, cream cheese, or other soft treats. This allows your dog to work on obtaining the food, providing them with a satisfying and calming experience. Additionally, calming treats, CBD oil, kongs filled with peanut butter or kibbles, or anxiety vests can also help your dog feel more at ease. Including these items in their crate or safe space during a storm can provide a much-needed sense of comfort.

Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language

While it may be tempting to get upset with your dog for destructive behavior or whining during a thunderstorm, it is important to take the time to understand their actions and find ways to assist them. The best way to soothe your dog effectively is by being aware of their body language.

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Dogs are masters of communication through body language. They can easily read the body language of other dogs and even understand our own signals, but we often overlook theirs. Misunderstanding your dog’s attempts to communicate can lead to frustration and further anxiety for both of you.

For instance, yawning in dogs is often a sign of stress. By recognizing these behavioral cues before a storm hits, you can implement a plan to help your dog stay calm before their anxiety escalates. Understanding their body language will enable you to respond in a supportive and helpful manner.

Remember, your dog relies on you for comfort and security. By implementing these tips during thunderstorms, you can create a soothing environment and help alleviate their anxiety. Keep a watchful eye on their body language and provide them with the care and love they need to weather any storm.