Most of us dog owners are always wondering: why are dogs scared of thunder? Just the slight rumble of thunder far away can make even the biggest dogs try to squeeze themselves underneath our beds. So, what makes thunder such a menace to our sweet pups?
There isn’t one simple explanation as to why dogs are scared of thunder. You’ll be surprised to discover the unique reasons that make our dogs frightened when a thunderstorm rolls around.
As we know, our dogs have insanely good hearing. It’s what gives guard dogs their name! Such a great sense of hearing can also cause a dog to develop noise phobias. This kind of noise sensitivity is also what makes dogs scared of thunder.
The reason a dog develops a noise phobia isn’t always clear. This may sound strange, as 40% of all dogs struggle with noise aversions. We do know that certain dog breeds are more inclined to have noise phobias, particularly those associated with thunder.
Ever wonder why one dog may be scared beyond belief when thunder rolls around, while the other is as chill as a cucumber? It’s possibly because one dog is genetically predisposed to a thunder noise phobia. Border collies are one example of a pup whose genetics make them prone to storm-related panic issues.
Dogs are very prone to anxiety. Combined with their excellent hearing qualities, a loud and abrupt sound like thunder can be very upsetting for a dog. This can stir up some intense anxiety, causing a dog to shake, whimper, or hide.
Anxiety evolves as a defense mechanism no matter if you have two or four legs. Oftentimes, dogs show very minimal signs of ‘thunder anxiety.’ Then, suddenly, they’re shaking uncontrollably and hiding under your bed.
Just like a human’s anxiety, a dog’s anxiety only intensifies when the fear is constant. Repeatedly experiencing the uncomfortable sound of thunder only builds up more fear inside our dogs. They begin to make associations with the loud noises, such as seeing rain and lightning. All of these factors create a more physical reaction to thunder over time.
This is super upsetting to experience as a dog parent. The best thing we can do is console our dogs. Making them feel safe and comfortable is how we can attempt to lower their anxieties from thunder.
Our dogs are super smart, smart enough to detect the change in barometric pressure that comes with thunderstorms! Veterinary studies have shown that this shift in pressure during storms is a major fear trigger in dogs.
Not only does the pressure affect our pups, but the electricity too. When thunderstorms roll around, there is much more static electricity in the air. We humans don’t have the fur coats our dogs have. If we did, we’d feel the tingling sensation in our fur that this static electricity causes. This tingling isn’t pleasant for our dogs and causes them to whimper or hide as a result.
How you Can Soothe your Dog During a Thunderstorm
There isn’t an exact science behind why dogs are scared of thunder. But, there are reliable ways we dog owners can soothe our four-legged pals when they’re scared.
Be a calm presence
This is always number 1. Dogs can sense if we are tense, angry, or scared. Showing them that we are calm and relaxed will help them feel the same too. This means approaching your dog gently and without any abrupt, forceful motions.
Comfort them with things they love
Every dog has their preferred toys or places to relax. Bringing your dog’s favorite things can distract your pup with more positive associations. You can also bring your dog to a place he or she usually loves relax, whether it’s the couch, your bed, or your dog’s crate.
Invest in an anti-static jacket
This is an excellent idea if your dog has a thick coat or long hair. These jackets help reduce the static electricity on your dog’s coat when a storm comes around, keeping your dog comfy. These are especially great if you live in a place where thunderstorms are a norm.
Or use unscented dryer sheets!
If an anti-static jacket sounds like too much – the word on the block is that Martha Stewart suggests using dryer sheets instead. Rubbing the sheets on your pup’s coat prior to the storm can help eliminate the static in your dog’s fur. Just remember to use natural and fragrance-free dryer sheets, as regular ones can have toxic chemicals for your pup.
Know someone with a four-legged friend afraid of thunder? Sharing this article could help both of them get through the next thunderstorm a little more calmly and comfortably.