Let’s set the scene: It’s a dark and stormy night.
You’re snuggled up by your front window, watching flashes of lightning dance across the sky.
Your dog is… cowering under the coffee table?
If this sounds like a typical summer evening to you, have no fear. There are steps you can take to ease your poor pup’s thunder-induced anxiety. And if your dog is scared of fireworks, these tricks will work too!
First, know the signs! Recognizing signs of fear in dogs can go a long way when It comes to helping your dog feel safe and secure. Behaviors indicating something is up include cowering, panting, pacing, and more.
Why Your Dog is Scared of Thunder and Fireworks
There are a few reasons loud noises from the sky could spook your dog.
The most obvious: your dog has a keen sense of hearing, and both thunder and fireworks are loud. Just like we don’t love when someone sneaks up behind us to clang cymbals near our head, sudden bangs are likely hard on your pup’s ears.
Another possible culprit behind a fear of thunder is that your dog senses the change in barometric pressure brought on by storms, and they’re not happy about it. Did you know your dog can pick up on shifts in static electric field? That’s right, your dog is like your own personal little weatherman. You know, if your weatherman only tells you storms are happening as they’re already starting.
How to Calm Your Dog During a Thunderstorm or Fireworks Show
Notice a storm brewing? Fourth of July approaching? Here’s what to do.
Give Your Dog a Safe Place to Go
When fear strikes, there’s nothing like hiding somewhere comforting and familiar. Panic rooms are called panic rooms for a reason!
Where does your dog feel the safest? If they’re crate trained, guide them there when dark clouds roll in. Do they have a favorite corner? Make sure it’s not blocked off.
Be There for Them
Your dog’s favorite “security blanket” is you! If you can, being home during a storm will help them feel safer.
The key to keeping your dog calm is to show them a little thunderstorm or a few firecrackers is no big deal. When your dog begins to whimper, gently comfort them and reassure them everything is going to be alright.
Distract Your Dog
Try to take your pup’s mind off their terror with happy distractions. This is the time for pets, toys, a game of fetch, you name it.
Looking for inspiration? We’ve curated a list of our team’s dogs’ favorite ways to keep busy indoors.
Drown Out the Sound
Sudden loud noises seem scarier among dead silence. Even out the noise level with some music or TV to avoid jump scares.
Desensitize Your Dog
Familiarizing your pup to the sound of thunder and fireworks will help make the real thing seem less scary. Find an audio on YouTube and play it for your pup at low volume, offering lots of treats and positive reinforcement. Then ever so slowly, increase the volume little by little as they get used to the noise.
Ask Your Vet
If all else fails, give your veterinarian a call! They’re there to help!
We hope these tips and tricks worked for you as well as they worked for the dogs on our team.
Good luck this thunderstorm season!