Because they have extremely sensitive hearing, thunderstorms and other loud noises cause many dogs to become fearful. In many cases, such loud noises may cause a dog to run away or harm itself. To avoid these stressful events, try out six tried and true tips for calming your dog during thunderstorms:
1. Start training early in life
The best way to help a dog overcome its fear of thunderstorms is to train it as a puppy to see it as a positive thing. If you train it while your puppy is young, you can help prevent unwanted behaviors later in life that stem from anxiety during storms or when there are other loud sounds.
2. Associate thunderstorms with positive experiences
To help desensitize your dog to thunder, you should associate thunderstorms with positive experiences, such as playtime or getting treats. If you play with your dog during thunderstorms, it will not only be distracted, but it will associate the loud sounds with fun activities. But be careful, though, staying outdoor when it’s stormy is dangerous.
3. Train your dog with recordings of loud noises, such as thunder
To further help desensitize your dog, you can use recordings of thunder for when there are no thunderstorms in progress. By introducing the sound on a regular basis and allowing the dog to get used to it, it will likely be less fearful for an actual thunderstorm. It is beneficial to also associate the recordings with positive activities, such as playtime or getting treats.
4. Play music or white noise during storms
If your dog is alarmed by the sound of thunder, using music or white noise to mask the sound can help keep it calm. Examples of white noise include the static found between radio stations or with an unavailable television channel.
5. Prepare a safe place to hide your dog
Because fearful dogs can run away or become injured, it is important that you keep your dog inside in a safe place during thunderstorms. A bathroom without windows can be used and your dog may hide in the bathtub.
Many dogs will also hide under a bed or in a closet, although you have to ensure that such hiding places are safe for your dog beforehand. However, if your dog is extremely fearful, it may be best to place it in a crate. No matter where you choose to hide your dog, just make sure that there are plenty of toys and comfortable bedding.
6. Talk to your veterinarian
If your dog is still anxious no matter what you try, it may be time to speak to your veterinarian about medication. There are also natural remedies that can be used to help calm your dog during thunderstorms, though you should always speak to your vet before trying something new with your pet. You should also ask if your veterinarian can recommend a certified dog behaviorist for further assistance and training.
For any dog owner, it is stressful to see a beloved pet suffering during a thunderstorm. However, with these six tips for calming your dog during thunderstorms, you can help bring relief to you and your dog.