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Dog scared of thunder: what should I do?

Author: Alexandra Wrigley

Ah, there’s nothing more relaxing than the sound of rain pattering on your window and you being safe inside your home from thunder and lightning. It’s quite comfortable and soothing to be sitting on the inside unaffected by the weather.

While this may be the case for you, we wish the same could be said about dogs. If you own a dog, you probably notice the slightest crashing sound of thunder; they can become easily scared. In fact, they can quiver and want to climb on your lap.

Sometimes as a dog owner, you can often feel a bit helpless. Large scale thunderstorms are something that you can’t control; it’s an external factor. However, there are some things to make your dog less scared of thunder.

Before we go into this, we first need to explore why they are scared.

Why are dogs afraid of thunder?

There’s more science to your dog scared of thunder than you think. In fact, it’s all to do with the electrical charge in the air. It is believed that if your canine has a furry coat, there can be a static build-up in its fur, causing an uncomfortable shock.

Alongside the shock, their nose can become sensitive if it touches metal during the thunderstorm. A well sought-after Veterinarian, Nicholas Dodman, believed this could trigger phobias in dogs.

It’s for this reason why your dog may run away to hide in a basement or an enclosed space, as these areas are grounded. Due to this, there’s less electrical charge in the air to stop your dog’s coat from receiving a shock.

In addition to the shock, your dog might just be scared of the sound the thunderstorm makes. This can be known as a noise phobia. Unfortunately, if you live in an area with regular thunderstorms, it can sometimes become a lot worse as they can associate the loud noise with fear.

However, there is still a lot of scientific research to be done when it comes to noise phobias of dogs, so we can’t say for sure if your dog has a noise phobia or not.

How to help your dog be less scared of thunder

There’s no set formula or solution when it comes to identifying the problem your dog fears. However, there are some methods you can try, which are:

Let them find a safe space

This is an easy option to help your dog feel safe. Let them find their own safe space in your home where they feel comfortable from the thunder. Once you know where that space is, you can make it even more comfortable. Typical things you can do are soundproofing it, adding blankets, and adding white noise to stop the thunder from being loud.

Purchase an anti-static jacket

You can also get your dog an anti static jacket to reduce the severity of the shocks they receive. Similarly, some jackets are soft and comfortable and can make your dog more relaxed and calm.

Speak to a vet

If your dog is seriously troubled by thunderstorms every time they occur, then you might want to get advice from a veterinarian. A veterinarian will tell you the best action to take and may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication to make your dog calmer. However, medication is not the go-to solution for dogs; you should only give it to your dog if all other methods have failed and only if a veterinarian has recommended it.

Counterconditioning and desensitization

You may be able to get your dog to like thunderstorms. Every time there’s a storm and thunder is about to be struck, you can give your dog a treat. Another option is slowly exposing your dog to thunder and, over time, causing their fear to be a lot less.

Final thoughts

Many dogs are scared of thunder due to the loud noises they create and the mild shocks they receive from the static charges. While you can’t control the weather, you can certainly control how your dog reacts to thunderstorms.

You can do this through counterconditioning, desensitization, speaking to a vet, letting them find a space space and purchasing an anti static jacket.

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