Scared puppy

Why Is Thunder So Scary to Dogs?

Posted by Nikki Wardle on June 21, 2022 at 9:00 AM
Nikki Wardle
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While we started April 2022 in an extreme drought condition, May definitely gave the Treasure Valley a good watering. With these rain showers came a few thunderstorms, certainly not a favorite of local canines. This begs the question, what makes dogs (and cats) scared of thunder?

Big-Bad-Loud Noises

Gunshots, fireworks, and thunder are the most common noises that cause anxiety in your pups. Some breeds of canines, like German Shepherds, Collies, and Golden Retrievers, are more noise adverse than others. Many theorize this fear comes from hundreds of years of learned survival instincts. Couple the survival instinct with the fact that dogs can hear a minimum of twice the frequencies that of humans and they can hear sounds more four times farther than humans creates a recipe for canines to freak out a bit.

The Unseen Factor

Static electricity could be a contributing factor to causing your pup’s anxiety. During a thunderstorm, the electricity in the air increases, causing the likelihood of static building up in your canine’s coat, especially for long hair breeds and breeds with double coats.  

Tips to Help Your Pups During Thunderstorms

  • Give Your Pup a Safe Place — If your pup’s safe place is their crate, throw a blanket over it to help lessen the outside noises. Your dog may choose to burrow in a closet or other hidden spaces in the house. It’s also important to remember not to stop your pup from going to their safe place.
  • Put On Other Soothing Background Noises — Put on the T.V. or music (classical is optimal) to drown out the thunder.
  • Toys and Puzzles May Help — Give your pet something to take his mind off the trouble noises. Even a lick matt or snuffle matt will help pass the time.
  • Thunder Jackets — These are shirts and jackets that tightly fit around your pet to simulate touch or deep pressure therapy to alleviate stress and anxiety and incite a state of relaxation. The constant pressure of the thunder jacket deactivates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and stimulates the parasympathetic system, the nervous system responsible for rest and relaxation.
  • Pheromones — Adaptil® makes a wall plugin diffuser that pumps out calming pheromones. Pheromone collars, wet wipes, and sprays can help your pet feel calm during a storm.
  • Don’t try and comfort or soothe your dog. Yes, you read that right. When you are trying your comfort your canine, they understand that something is wrong and that they should be upset. Act natural, relaxed even. Dogs are keen on our body language and voice influxes. If they see you aren’t worried, that may help them calm down.

If you are concerned about your pup and loud noises, talk to your veterinarian about the best options for your fur baby. You can also check out all of the calming solutions in our online store. Remember that your pup doesn’t understand what thunder is, but they know it’s loud, and they’re not into it.

Topics: Pet Care, Fear Free