Quiet the Storm: Tips for Calming Dogs in Thunderstorms

Quiet the Storm: Tips for Calming Dogs in Thunderstorms

Key Points

  • Thunderstorms are stressful for your canine, and calming dog methods help ease their stress.  

  • Calming dog aids help with your dogs' fear-related anxiety during thunderstorms.

  • Dogs have a heightened sense of hearing and rely on it to navigate the world; that means they are sensitive to loud noises like the booming sound of thunder. 

Thunderstorms often make pets anxious. The sudden bangs of vibrating sounds and wild flashes of lightning are intense for them. Animals tend to be more sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure. This is especially true for dogs. No loving pet parent wants to see their four-legged companion cower in fear during storms. Try some calming dog techniques to help your barking pal cope with distressing weather events. 

Does your dog run and hide whenever a thunderstorm hits? Do they attempt to bury their heads beneath a pillow? They might be trying to cover up their ears. Thunderstorms are so loud that you actually feel the boisterous boom in the air. Imagine if human senses were as hypersensitive as a dog's. Canines have a heightened sense of hearing, and boom-like noises do scare them. 

Dog hides within a towel during thunderstorm

Understanding Canine Sound Sensitivities

Dogs depend on their senses to navigate the world. They have an excellent sense of hearing and a powerful sense of smell. According to AKC, dogs hear sounds at higher frequencies than humans. They hear faint sounds and soft noises that humans can’t even detect. With such sound sensitivity, it’s no wonder why the clap of thunder might trigger their anxiety. 

A canine's acute sense of hearing is thanks to the structure of its ears. A dog’s ear has three major parts: the outer, middle, and inner. The only part you see is the outer ear, which directs sound toward the ear canal. The middle ear contains the eardrum. It’s also where three little bones help amplify the sound waves. This is where sensitivity to noise kicks in. The inner ear contains the cochlea, which works to transition the sound waves into nerve impulses that the brain interprets. With this structure, dogs hear sounds from great distances or subtle frequencies undetectable to the human ear. 

Besides being able to pick up the slightest change in pitch and tone, they also feel changes in atmospheric pressure. Loud noises, like thunderstorms, are painful for them, sometimes causing confusion and disorientation. These worrisome states lead to fear and anxiety.      

What Dog Breeds Have the Most Anxiety?

Knowing that dogs are sensitive to sound isn’t the only reason they get frightened during storms. Some dogs might have a predisposition to fear-related anxiety, which makes extreme weather changes extra stressful. For instance, take into account where your dog came from. Are they rescue dogs adopted from an animal shelter? Did they suffer neglect or abuse? Consider past risk factors when learning about their vulnerabilities. 

Although certain dog breeds are associated with higher anxiety, every dog has a unique personality. Where they came from, coupled with their experiences, is what forms their foundation. Some canine breeds have more anxious behaviors due to their genetics and history. 

Small breed dogs, like Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels, Bichon Frise, and mini poodles, have excitable personalities. They are affectionate, sweet-natured, and some of the most talkative barkers around. They are also known for being nervous, easily stressed, and may overreact to loud noises, new experiences, or strangers. 

Energetic and outgoing dogs, like the Border Collie, Labrador Retriever, and Greyhound, have affectionate, friendly personalities. However, they may display some anxiety without enough exercise, mental stimulation, training, and attention. 

Developing socialization skills via proper training prevents or aids in managing your dog’s anxiety. However, all dogs are sensitive to loud noises when it comes to thunderstorms. Whether they have to listen to high winds, clamoring thunder, or even fireworks, give your little buddy the space they need to feel safe. 

Dog huddles underneath blanket during thunderstorm

Signs of Canine Anxiety During a Thunderstorm

Not every dog reacts the same way to obnoxiously loud noises.

Exhibiting destructive behavior like chewing, scratching, or digging; pacing, circling, or general restlessness; noticeable shaking or trembling; and excessive panting or drooling are some symptoms. Hiding during stormy weather is one of the most common symptoms of a scared or stressed dog. They might run beneath the bed, hide in the closet, or bury their heads beneath their blanket. 

Whining, whimpering, or excessive barking are also signs of canine distress. For example, who doesn’t enjoy those talkative Siberian Husky Youtube videos? No matter how adorable it might sound, if they howl, whine, and sound like they’re “talking” at you during major storms, then pay attention. It could be a pattern that thunderstorms are an anxiety-provoking moment for them. 

Urinating or defecating inside the house when they're trained to go outdoors means they're stressed out. Some pups do have potty pad training. Either way, it may impact their potty training if they’re scared or stressed enough. 

If you notice your lovable companion stressing out during a storm, take steps to help them cope. They’re scared, and as a responsible pet parent, you must find ways of making them feel as safe as possible.

How Do You Calm a Dog During Thunderstorms?

These calming dog tips are common suggestions for keeping your dog calm during a thunderstorm. Easing their anxiety by providing them with love, care, and security is first. 

When you’re trying to figure out what is best for calming a dog, your options range from physical exercise to calming therapies.  Some tips are to promote a strong feeling of safety, provide calming distractions, give them calming treats or supplements, and use a calming spray

If you have exhausted all the options for calming your dog at home, it may be time to consult with a vet. A veterinarian helps with a treatment plan for dogs with fear-related anxiety who are sensitive to thunderstorms. 

Dog lays on grass underneath an umbrella during thunderstorm

A Safe Place

Creating a safe space for canines with separation anxiety is a must. A secure retreat also helps dogs stay calm during thunderstorms. A calming dog bed is best in an area where they get peace and quiet.

Some barking buddies may even prefer their crate. An enclosed space is something many animals gravitate to when needing rest. For example, bears, wild cats, and wolves are more likely to relax in their dens. It’s a haven they trust so they feel calm, ultimately allowing them to unwind and rest fully. Even birds and squirrels retreat to their dens, burrows, and nests for safety and sleep. 

Invest in some calming blankets or a calming dog bed to make a cozy and inviting crate area for your pup. If they like stuffed animals, add them to the space. Are they a foodie? Does your dog love to snack? If they aren’t used to getting into a crate to relax, try enticing them with delicious treats. Incentivize them when they exhibit healthy habits. 

Try your best to be home during these storms. They trust you and feel safer when you’re around. 

Keep Your Dog Preoccupied

Thunderstorms not only scare dogs, but they also trigger hyperactivity. Yes, the little one might run to their safe space, but not all canines immediately calm down. Instead of them chewing on or ruining their favorite stuffed animal, try providing them with distractions. Dog calming products like hard or dense chew toys with squeakers provide a curious and fun challenge for them.

Dog calming products like toys don’t have to be chew-focused. If you have a hyperactive dog, find some mentally stimulating options. Try using some scented puzzle toys. Place treats inside the toys to keep them busy. Scent-finding games provide them with distraction during a storm. Incentivize your spirited pup by using positive reinforcement training. It includes rewarding them with some tasty, calming treats. 

Dog looks terrified during thunderstorm

Is Your Dog Getting Enough Exercise?

A hyperactive dog needs many types of intense exercises and calming dog activities to manage their energy levels.

Developing healthy habits early is key. Physical activity naturally burns off that excess energy, even if you have an older doggo. Regular exercise is essential for a hyperactive dog’s mental and physical well-being. The daily baseline is from half an hour to an hour of activity. Daily walks, playing fetch, and visiting dog parks are popular ways of giving them that much-needed physical outlet.

Refer to your veterinarian or professional dog trainer for the best calming dog exercises for hyperactivity.

How Do You Know if There Is Too Much Stimulation for Your Dog? 

Does your furry companion seem easily overwhelmed? If so, they are usually more sensitive to rain, wind, or thunderstorms.

Overstimulation may appear as hyperactivity, restlessness, or agitation. Excessive excitement, whether positive or negative, causes some dogs to get overwhelmed. Remove them from that stimulating environment and place them in a calm space. One that's quiet and inviting, like their calming dog bed or warm and cozy crate. 

Every type of dog gets stressed during major weather events. It doesn’t matter if you have a sweet-natured pup, a hyperactive dog, or one that gets overstimulated. An exercise routine, mentally stimulating games, and positive reinforcement affect their resilience.

Dog looks longingly out window during rainstorm

Calming Aids: Therapies, Supplements, And Medications 

The best calming aid for dogs depends on your canine’s unique personality. If you know a thunderstorm hits soon, and you’re wondering what to give your dog to calm them down at home, any of the tips above are helpful. 

Not all calming dog methods may work, especially when the weather is more extreme than usual. For alternative routes, try various therapeutic techniques. Consider checking out calming dog supplements or vet-approved canine anxiety meds.

Promote Relaxation Through Therapy 

Did you know a simple massage helps your dog achieve ultimate relaxation? It’s not hard to imagine because many dogs love petting, scratching, and cuddling with their loved ones. Gentle pressure in most tension-building areas, like the neck, shoulders, and back is effective. The movements aid in releasing and relaxing their muscles. You know it’s been successful when your yapping pal begins to doze off in the middle of the massage. 

Applying snug pressure on their body is a form of deep tissue therapy. Weighted calming dog blankets, for instance, deliver a sense of ease, thus reducing stress. Canine shirts, vests, and sweaters do the same. Babies getting swaddles keeps them warm and comfy, helping them relax. It’s no surprise that applying light, gentle pressure all over your dog’s body does the same. This concept is comparable to what a comfort item does for a child. 

Scent therapy is well known for offering some calming benefits too. Common aromas that help create a calm environment include chamomile, lavender, or peppermint. Try using essential oils as an air freshener or use them in a spray bottle.

Music therapy is also a great way of preparing for their safe space. A curated playlist helps create a peaceful atmosphere for them to fully relax and remain calm. Soft music with a slow beat helps to soothe them. Even white noise, like a running fan, low TV static, or a steady hum, reduces stress and calms their nerves. 

Dog hides under blanket from thunderstorm

Try Calming Dog Supplements 

The best dog calming treats are appealing because they are tasty and work to calm your dog. Dog calming chews like zen treats are delicious and designed to give your canine that zen feeling. There are also dog-calming drops that do the same. 

For tea lovers, you may already have these natural calming ingredients: chamomile, valerian root, or ginger root. These herbs are commonly used as a calming dog remedy. 

Dog Calming Medication 

If calming dog techniques fail or your furry best friend is simply too scared and anxious, it may be time to visit the vet. Prescription medications to help dogs cope with anxiety related to minor or major thunderstorms are also options. A veterinarian helps determine the best treatment plans and canine anxiety meds for your dog. 

Be Patient and Let the Storm Pass

Recognizing when your dog is in distress is important for their mental and emotional health. If they only exhibit fearful or negative behaviors during thunderstorms, that is a prime example of a distressed pup. Alison Seward of Ryan Veterinary Hospital writes, 

“Never punish a dog behaving fearfully! Punishing a dog by yelling, holding him down, squirting him with water, jerking his collar, or anything else aversive, may temporarily stop some behaviors…However, punishment only inhibits behavior.” 

Instead, take your pick of all the different calming dog methods. It doesn’t matter how extreme those thunderstorms get; there’s always something to do that helps your furry companion feel protected, safe, and loved. 

Visit CalmingDog's website for more great products to relieve your dog's anxiety.

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