Is Your Dog Afraid of Thunderstorms?

Monday, July 11, 2011 - 9:30am

The skies begin to darken. Your beloved dog begins to pant and pace around the house—her tail tucked between her legs. When the first crash of thunder hits, she bolts into the bathroom and curls up tightly in the tub. She remains there, trembling, until the storm passes.

Sound familiar? If your pooch is scared of thunderstorms, don’t worry! We have some stellar advice for helping her overcome this fear.

  • Human company often calms panicked dogs. If your calm, quiet touch brings comfort and security, take time to snuggle with your pet.
  • Try turning on some calming music, a TV or radio, or a fan to muffle storm noises. Shutting the drapes may also help if lightning frightens your dog.
    More active distractions may help, too. See if your dog will eat from a food-filled toy like a stuffed Kong, scatter treats in the house for him to find, or try playing tug with his favorite toy.
  • Invest in wellness products. There are a number of products on the market that may help your pup remain calm during storms, including close-fitting body wraps, noise-reducing headphones, herbal remedies and medications. Talk to your vet about options.
  • Make sure it’s not a medical condition. If your adult dog has suddenly become afraid of storms, please start with a visit to your vet. A sick dog may be more sensitive to sounds, and no amount of behavior modification will help if your dog’s fear is due to a medical condition.

Help is just around the corner! Please visit the ASPCA’s Virtual Behaviorist for more great advice.