Dogs react to loud sounds differently. While there are dogs scared of thunder that they hurry to a hiding spot upon hearing the loud cracks, others remain unperturbed. No one’s sure why some dogs react fearfully to the sound while others are not bothered at all. Some believe it is breed specific while others say separation anxiety plays a role.
But why do dogs react in such way? People can be spooked by the sound of thunder, too, so it’s easy to understand. Recent studies, however, pointed out that the loud noise is not the only thing that bothers the dog. Static electricity, which builds up in your dog’s coat as a result of atmospheric changes during thunderstorms, can cause painful shocks that are unsettling.
A dog that’s usually scared of the roars (or even fireworks) may go into hiding, urinate, drool, tremble, pant excessively and whine. There are also those that do whatever they can — to the point of injuring themselves — just to escape the sound. While there’s no way to guarantee that your dog’s fear of thunder will be resolved, there are ways that you can help reduce that anxiety.
1. Be mindful of your own reaction.
The most important thing NOT to do when there’s thunder is to comfort your dog with heavy cuddles and petting. Doing so would only make your dog think that you’re rewarding his fearful behavior. What you need to do is stay calm and not make a big fuss out of it. You might also want to distract your dog with games and other activities he usually enjoys.
2. Keep your dog active before a thunderstorm
Thunderstorms can be predicted and if one is around your area, you might want to prepare your dog for it. Take your dog out for a walk or run before the clouds roll in. Your dog will be physically and mentally tired by then. Many vets also claim that exercise will boost serotonin levels, which will, in turn, help calm your dog.
3. Turn the frightful experience into something positive
You want your dog to see thunder in a new light — something that brings positivity. You can try by keeping your dog’s favorite toy hidden until a thunderstorm starts. Give the favorite toy once your dog starts to feel anxious. Another is to prepare him a tasty meal or snack that you will give once the loud roars begin.
4. Special clothing for thunderstorms
There are products that actually help dogs scared of thunder namely Thundershirt and Storm Defender. Thundershirt works like how a swaddle does for an infant — it’s as if your dog is being hugged tightly. Storm Defender, on the other hand, helps alleviate the buildup of static. You might want to put on these vests before a thunderstorm so your dog will not associate them with fear or terror.
5. Build a safe hiding spot
At some point, your dog might just want to run away from it all and there’s nothing you can do about it. You might want to help your dog avoid injury by making a safe and comfortable hiding spot for him.
6. Consult an expert
If nothing works for your beloved canine companion, you may want to consider getting an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist. In cases of severe anxiety, your vet might prescribe your dog medications.
Got any more tips to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!