Your dog starts whining with its tail between its legs. Suddenly it is heavily breathing and shaking under the bed. Why? The issue could be a thunderstorm. Is it normal for a dog scared of thunder to act this way? Should dogs be scared of thunder at all?
The short answer? It’s very common for dogs to be scared of thunder. Find out why your dog might be reacting so anxiously during thunderstorms and how you can help them remain calm during bad weather.
Why is My Dog Scared of Thunder?
For many animals, loud noises are a threat. It’s sudden, unpredictable, and your dog doesn’t understand what it is or why it’s happening. Dogs scared of thunder are usually also scared of fireworks and gunshots.
Lightening can add to the threatening atmosphere of the shaking, loud sounds, causing your dog to become overwhelmed with fear or anxiousness. Many pets can even feel the static electricity in the air. Dogs with more sensitive hearing may become even more overwhelmed by thunderstorms. Others might be able to sense the change in air pressure and feel uncomfortable or confused.
Some dogs might become more frightened during thunderstorms than others. These dogs may have astraphobia. Also known as brontophobia, this is a kind of phobia defined as an intense fear of extremely loud but natural noises in the environment. The most common? Lightning and thunder.
But some dogs may be scared of thunder due to experiences they’ve had in their lives. Abused dogs with a history of being yelled at are more likely to be afraid of other loud noises like thunder. You may notice canines getting anxious or stressed. Some may even try to hide under tables, covers, or the bed.
Is It Normal for a Dog to Be Scared of Thunder?
Yes, it is normal for dogs to howl dramatically as a storm builds up or dash for the closet when they hear a loud crack of thunder.
It’s extremely common for dogs to be afraid of thunder. As you can see from the section above, there are many reasons that canines may not like the experience, from genetic makeup to past experiences.
Dogs can feel the change in the environment and hear faraway thunder much sooner than we can. Their impressive ears allow them to hear things up to 80 feet away (compared to our 20). The buildup of the storm can often overwhelm more sensitive canines, and the thunder itself will sound much louder to a dog than it does to us.
The unknown and the unexplainable can frighten more anxious dogs as well. They don’t know when the next clap of thunder will happen or when it will end. They also don’t know why it’s happening. So it’s quite common for canines to experience a level of anxiousness or fear during storms.
Are All Dogs Scared of Thunder?
Even though fireworks and thunder are common triggers for most canines, there are dogs out there that aren’t affected by storms at all.
Many things happen before thunder booms, like darker clouds, rain, winds, and changes in air pressure. For some canines, this can build up the tension and make them even more nervous about the upcoming thunder. But other dogs take it as a warning, and the following thunder isn’t as shocking or scary to them.
Canines can also become immune to thunder over time if you live in an area where it’s more common. Others are trained not to be scared of thunder, which takes time and patience. But it will leave your dog feeling a lot more confident during storms and reduce destructive behavior caused by anxiousness.
What Do You Call a Dog Scared of Thunder?
The most common phrase you’ll hear to describe a dog that’s scared of storms is “thunder phobia.” This is the more general term for astrophobia or brontophobia, which humans and dogs can both experience.
Astrophobia and brontophobia both mean “fear of thunderstorms” and can be used interchangeably. Technically, astrophobia is the fear of lightning and brontophobia is the fear of thunder, but the two words have become synonymous over the years.
These phobias are characterized as being “terrified of bad weather,” and sometimes, the people or canines who have it don’t even know why. If signs of bad weather occur, they will hide inside the home in an area they feel safe. They might refuse to go outside or come out of hiding. Meanwhile, their heart rate can increase, and they might have labored breathing.
The signs of astraphobia include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Inability to focus
- Stomach cramping and queasiness
Ways to Calm Your Dog if They’re Scared of Thunder
You can’t stop a thunderstorm from happening (but it’s worth a shot). There are still ways you can help your dog deal with thunder and other bad weather. Here are some ways you can assist your dog with loud noises during storms.
It can help your dog stay calm if you are calm too. Dogs will feel reassured when they see that you are calm and collected despite the thunder. They will realize there’s no danger.
This also means you shouldn’t fuss and worry when your dog is acting upset during a storm. Negative reactions might cause your dog to associate thunderstorms with anxiety, nervousness, and being scolded.
Make sure to shut windows and doors to ensure that the thunder is a bit muffled. You could even put blankets or towels under doors to make the room your dog is in even more protected and noise-proof.
Create a Safe Space
When your dog is scared, it can help if they have a safe space to feel comforted and protected. For many canines, this can be a crate. You can even cover the crate with a blanket, which will help absorb sound.
Experts explain that dogs descend from wolves, who liked to live in den-like environments. Having this smaller space eliminates the possibility of something sneaking up on them. So your dog will instinctually feel more at ease in an enclosed space.Keep the crate door open so that your dog doesn’t feel completely trapped.
Don’t Scold Them
When your dog is panicking, it will only overwhelm and stress your pet more if you yell at it. Your furry friend should feel protected and distracted during thunderstorms. Remember that your dog can’t help it and that the fear is irrational.
Provide Background Noise
Sometimes familiar sounds can be a great distraction for your dog. Turn on the TV or play some calming music. This will drown out the noise of the thunder and create a sense of normalcy during the storm. It’s even helpful to play white noise.
Something else to consider is simply talking. Dogs can feel immensely comforted by simply hearing the sound of your voice, whether you’re talking to it or someone else. Pet them gently, with long, calming strokes if they seem to like it. If your pup seems uncomfortable at being touched during a thunderstorm, give it some space.
Give your dog some toys to keep them occupied. These could be their favorite chew toys. Or it could even be a rope to play tug of war with. Playing with them can help distract them from the storm outside.
Puzzle toys and other healthy outlets will keep your dog from self-soothing behaviors like chewing and licking. This can ensure that your dog doesn’t over-lick certain areas of its body, rip apart the couch, or chew on your shoes.
Even if your dog is too afraid to play, having you there acting positively will give your dog some confidence and comfort!
Try CBD Treats
Giving your dog treats during the storm is a great way to make thunder a more positive experience. But CBD treats are even more beneficial.
CBD is a non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid found in the hemp plant. It interacts with receptors found in your dog’s body. This interaction boosts the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS regulates your pooch’s overall wellness and balance (homeostasis).
The receptors are found throughout the body, including the digestive, immune, and nervous systems. This means that CBD has benefits that affect the entire body, including your dog’s mind. And that’s what makes CBD treats so impactful for dogs scared of thunder.
CBD can reduce your dog’s negative feelings, including nervousness, anxiousness, and fear. It will leave your dog feeling calm and comforted.
CBD treats will work within 30 minutes of your dog taking them. Give them to your dog when you first hear a storm beginning. You’ll notice our dog feeling soothed before the thunder begins. They will be calmer and won’t be as likely to howl, scratch, or chew.
Another great alternative at HolistaPet is the calming chews. These are softer CBD treats that are designed to make your dog feel relaxed and soothed. They are also easier to digest for canines with dental issues or sensitive stomachs.
HolistaPet treats are completely organic, vegan, and contain no harmful ingredients. All of the ingredients are healthy and beneficial, like pumpkins and blueberries.
Final Thoughts – Dog Scared of Thunder
Being scared of thunder is very normal for canines. Don’t panic when your dog starts to react negatively to storms. Instead, give it a safe space where the thunder isn’t as loud. Then put on the television to further drown out the noise.
Talk to your furry friend. Provide plenty of toys, and offer CBD treats to keep your dog calm and comforted. When you are calm and caring, your dog won’t be as anxious. Thunder can be scary and unpredictable, but if you take proper care of your dog during a storm, you can teach it to get used to the natural phenomenon.