How to Help Dogs with Fear of Thunderstorms

Does your dog cower during thunderstorms? Does he shake and drool, whine or become clingy?

Thunderphobia is a common issue, affecting many breeds. Thunderstorms typically cause anxiety in dogs like the sound of thunderstorms or the sight of lightning is frightening. If your dog appears anxious or frightened when thunderstorms approach, make sure your dog has some protection.

Frightened dogs may approach the source of the noise, such as you, or bolt. A thunderstorm can sound like a loud thunderclap or a series of loud, thunderous booms. Your dog may also panic if the storm occurs near the time of day when thunderstorms are most common, such as at night.

If your dog’s fear or anxiety is more intense, you may need to approach your dog and gently reassure him. You might even need to hold him down so he is not able to run away or bolt.

Create an indoor safe space for them to retreat

You can also provide your dog with a safe room where he feels protected. Put anything inside this room that will make him feel more at ease, such as calming music, pheromone products, toys, and safe chew items. Make the area dark so it is not frightening for your dog. You may want to use a baby gate to control access.

Safe chewable toys that are not easily destroyed and that will last throughout the entire duration of the thunderstorm will help keep your dog busy and distracted from the storm.

It is important to keep your dog away from any windows, so he does not see or hear anything that may alarm him. You can place a couch in front of a window for this purpose, if necessary. If you use a baby gate to control access to other parts of the house, make sure to leave your dog enough space to stand up, lie down and move around comfortably.

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Providing a calm, safe, familiar place to your dog is an important part of managing his fear.

Distract from the loud noise

You can also try to distract your dog by playing fun games with him, such as fetch or tug. Exercise has a very beneficial effect on anxious dogs. It is very useful for them to release energy before storms hit.

The best way to prevent your dog from becoming anxious during thunderstorms is to train him in advance. Begin training when you first notice that he becomes nervous when there are thunderclouds around. He will learn that storms are nothing to fear, and will become calm when they appear because he knows it means fun games or cuddles are close by.

To keep them calm during a storm, put your dog on a leash and walk him through the house with soothing music playing in the background. Talk softly to him while you are walking so he becomes habituated to the sound of your voice and human contact.

If your dog is extremely anxious during a thunderstorm, keep him in his safe room with the music and talk to him throughout the storm. The more you can make this a positive experience for him, the better he will do. It’s important to remain calm so that your dog doesn’t get even more nervous because he picks up on your anxiety.

Don’t punish him for exhibiting afraid behaviors; it will only make the problem worse. Avoid sudden movements and be careful how you address your dog during a thunderstorm because this may scare him even more.

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If your dog has behavior problems, such as eating his feces or urinating in the house when left alone, make sure these problems are resolved before you train him for thunderstorm management. These issues will only make the fear of storms worse.