Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms and may show signs of anxiety and fear before the storm arrives. It’s not clear as to why dogs react to storms. Some research thinks it might be the noise of thunder and others believe the EMP (Electro-magnetic pulse) that shifts and changes with thunder storms may affect dogs. Perhaps it’s even the change in air pressure that makes them nervous and indicates to them that the environment may be unsafe.
Regardless of the reasons why, dog owners have a big challenge with dogs who are nervous during storms. Some dogs may just pant and whine, while pacing the floor or sit right next to their owners. Others may want to hide in their crate or under a bed. Then there are others who run and try to find places to hide, knocking things over, wild-eyed, and extremely frightened. The last kind of anxiety is often the hardest to treat and often requires medication and advice from a vet as to how to best keep the dog safe, calm, and give it a sense of safety.
What to do
1: Talk to your vet to see if there are any behavior modification methods you can try or if medication would work depending on the severity of the problem.
2: Make sure your dog’s collar has proper ID and microchip your dog in case she gets out.
3: If your dog looks for places to hide, try to create a safe space. It could be behind a bookcase or under the bed. It could also be a dog crate with a blanket over it.
4: Try to stay calm since dogs can sense nervousness in their owners. Your dog’s fear of storms won’t get better if you are anticipating her getting nervous.
5: Play music or white noise to try and drown out some of the thunder.
6: Take a drive. Believe it or not, car rides seem to work with many dogs.
7: Some dogs will calm down if they are hugged, or wear the anxiety wrap. It’s a “shirt” that makes them more aware of their body, and can calm them down.
Remember, always stay calm and patient. If you lose your cool, you can escalate the anxiety and make the whole experience tougher on everyone. Take deep breaths and try to remember your dog is scared and unsure of what’s going on, and not just being a nuisance. Good luck!