We’ve all had moments where a crack of thunder startles us, so it’s no surprise that some dogs experience the same fear during a thunderstorm. However, some pets are extremely afraid of harsh weather. Why is that? And what can you do to help them out, even if you aren’t at home? While there are a few different ideas behind why dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly why. Likewise, it can be frustrating to find solutions to the problem, especially if you’re away from home during the day, when thunderstorms often take place, or if your dog’s fear causes destructive behavior.
Reasons For the Fear
One obvious reason for your dog being afraid of thunderstorms is the loud noise produced during them. Other studies suggest that the fear is caused by a buildup of static electricity within the dog’s coat. If your dog gets startled by other loud noises, like doors slamming or fireworks, you can be confident that your dog is experiencing noise phobia. Dogs also feed off of their owner’s behavior, so if you appear nervous during a storm, they will pick up on that and sense reason to be nervous.
Tips for Calming Your Dog
If you’re not at home during the day and there’s a thunderstorm on the weather report heading your way, you may want to consider having a friend stop by or hiring a dog walking service. Bucktown residents and other Chicago dog owners often have dog walkers stop in if their dogs are particularly averse to loud sounds, as the company can calm the dogs down and give them something else to focus on. If you are home, however, you can help your dog overcome fear of loud noises by remaining calm yourself during storms, as comforting them may make them believe they are correct in thinking the storm is a threat. You can also play with and exercise the dog so it sleeps though the loud noises, block out the outside noise with things like a fan or the television, or create a little “safe place” for your pup—their crate with some blankets can make many pets feel safer.
It’s important not to yell at your dog for behaviors caused from fear—this will just upset them and stress them out even more.