How to Handle a Scared Dog in a Thunderstorm


The cacophony of a thunderstorm can be nightmarish for dogs. They begin to pace, pant, tremble, and sometimes run off and hide in a hidden corner of your home. The cause of this fear is not exactly known by veterinarians; it may be due to the flashes of light and booms of thunder (much like fireworks), or it might be the anxiety resulting from a change in the routine. All this combined can result in a stressed dog, and oftentimes a stressed owner as well.

Thankfully, there are several ways to help your dog feel better during a thunderstorm.

1. Set aside a safe place

Dog wrapped in blanket

Setting aside a safe and comfortable place for a dog during a scary time can be a huge help. It gives the dog a sense of safety, hence the name, “safe space.” You can set up the space in a small area like a bathroom with a dog bed and/or blanket, some of their favorite toys, and a bowl of water.

2. Desensitize them to the sounds of storms

Pets WebMD suggests playing audio recordings of thunderstorm sounds during the non-storming seasons (generally winter) to help your dog get used to the sounds of bad weather. However, this may only have limited effects, as you are only making replicated sounds of thunder, and that may not always be the cause when it comes to their fear of storms.

3. Use a snug garment

Snowball wearing Thundershirt

This image used with permission The author’s dog, Snowball, wearing a ThunderShirt. (photo/Alex Dyke)

Wrapping up your dog in a snug garment gives them the sense of being cuddled, similar to swaddling a baby. Though this is not entirely proven, just like playing sounds of storms to desensitize, it is something that may be worth a try.

4. Distract them

Distracting your dog will help offset their mind from the storm outside. This could be done by turning on the TV, or even cuddling and playing with your dog (if they are in the mood, of course). This will make your dog feel that they are not alone and are loved, which is the most important thing to do when they feel scared.

These things may or may not help your scared pooch, but they will surely help with making your dog feel better during scary times.

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