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4 Reasons your dog is afraid of thunder storms and how to help them

4 Reasons your dog is afraid of thunder storms and how to help them

Do you have a dog that is afraid of thunderstorms? If so, you are not alone. Many dogs become agitated and anxious during storms, with some even developing true phobias. This can be a difficult problem to deal with, but there are things that you can do to help your dog cope. In this blog post, we will discuss the reasons why dogs are afraid of thunderstorms and offer tips on how to help them through these storms.

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Why your dog is afraid of thunder


One reason is that some dogs are unfortunately more predisposed to experience storm phobia – dogs on the larger side (50 pounds or more) are more likely to be troubled by storms. Herding breeds are also more prone to being anxious during storms.

They sense the changes in the atmosphere

Of course, fear of the sounds of thunder is a primary reason why dogs become storm-phobic, but there may be other changes that warn of impending storms, or even contribute to the fear. 

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor at Tufts University, has said that dogs  may be able to sense changes in static electric fields or even barometric pressure changes that preempt and accompany storms.

They may even be able to sense the ionized particles in the air or pick up vibrations through the ground, caused by distant claps of thunder. Paired with the darkening skies and rumbling thunder, these changes can be very confusing and scary for some dogs.

Static electricity

Dogs are also sensitive to static electricity. Static can build up in the dog’s fur (pups with long or double coats are particularly prone to this), which gives a prickly, uneasy feeling that can be a very frightening experience for them. Then if the dog touches a metal object with a wet nose, he’ll likely get an unpleasant shock, which can startle and frighten him.

Bright lights and loud noises

Additionally, the bright flashes of lightning and the loud claps of thunder can be very frightening for dogs. Some dogs may even be afraid of the rain itself.

How you can help ease your dog’s anxiety during a storm

Provide them with a safe space.

This could be a room in your house where they feel comfortable and safe. You may want to close the curtains or blinds to help block out some of the light from the flashes of lightning.

A grounded area is particularly helpful in this case, like a basement or a bathtub. The porcelain from the tub blocks the travel of the electricity, keeping your dog more comfortable until the storm passes.

It's a good idea to take them to this safe space ahead of time, to engage them with some fun activities and shower them with treats. This helps to create positive associations. In time, some dogs will even learn to go to this safe spot on their own. 

Turn on DOGTV

It can also help to turn on some calming music to help drown out the sound of the thunder. This is a great time to turn on DOGTV for your pup – in this case we recommend the Relaxation episodes. The soundtrack is specially composed based on our research around the particular types of music dogs find relaxing, down to the particular sound frequencies used.

Use a Thundershirt or anti-anxiety wrap

Another thing that you can do is to purchase a Thundershirt or other anti-anxiety wrap for your dog. Thundershirts are designed to help dogs feel calm and secure, and they are effective in reducing anxiety in many dogs.

You can also try wrapping your dog in a towel or blanket. This will help to provide them with a sense of security. I’ve also seen a similar effect with a well-fitting vest, though it’s important to note that just dressing your dog in clothes is not enough to help with anxiety.

The feeling you’re going for is like a gentle hug – tight enough to offer light compression but not so tight that the dog is uncomfortable moving around. Additionally, if an article of clothing isn’t properly fitted, it could rub your dog’s fur when he moves around, and exacerbate the static electricity build-up.

Calming treats or chews

Finally, you can try giving your dog some calming treats or chews. There are lots of great options on the market with anxiety-reducing ingredients, including many with CBD. You may also want to consult with your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medication for your dog. Your vet can advise if an OTC option is a good choice for your pup, or if you need to explore prescription medications.

If you have a dog that is afraid of thunderstorms, hopefully, these tips will help you to ease their anxiety. Remember, it is important to be patient and understanding with your dog during these times. They may act out of sorts, but they are not misbehaving, they are just scared and need a little TLC from their favorite human to help them weather the storm.