No matter where you live, it is very likely that you have experienced at least one or two storms. When storms come along, they tend to involve a lot of noise in the form of quick-moving wind, whistling air, and thunder crashing in the sky. Thunderstorms can be a lot of fun for people who like to witness chaotic natural occurrences, but if you are the lucky owner of a dog, then thunder might not be an event you look forward to in that way.
Dogs fear thunder, for the most part. Of course, there are exceptions to the claim that dogs are scared of thunder. But if you have ever asked yourself, “Why is my dog afraid of thunder?” then it is important to learn about the causes behind thunder phobia in dogs.
The Top Reasons Why Your Dog is Scared of Thunderstorms in General
Factors that Contribute to Thunderstorm Phobias in Dogs So, why do dogs get scared of thunder? What causes dogs to fear of thunder? The truth of the matter is that there is not a one-size-fits-all reason for why all dogs are scared of thunder. The reason why one dog is afraid of thunder might differ from the reason another dog is scared. Once you understand the top reasons why dogs might fear thunderstorms, you can start to help a dog that is scared of thunder.
As all of the problems that we face in life, it is important to understand the cause of the issue. Once we know what the main cause of the problem is, we can start working from the ground up, and fix the root of it all. Otherwise, if you just cover up the symptoms of a problem, the issue will still exist -- it just won’t be as disruptive.
When it comes to answering the question of why is my dog scared of thunder? we suggest figuring out which of the following possibilities are most likely. You know your dog better than anyone else does, so use your intuition to decide if any of these possible reasons why dogs are afraid of thunder resonates the most. The answer might be a combination of a few reasons, too. But no matter what, you will be able to help your dog through a thunderstorm more successfully when you know what exactly is causing them to worry and whimper in the first place!
Without further ado, here are seven variables that contribute to a dog’s fear of thunder!
Type of Breed
The breed of your dog plays a large role in how your canine companion will respond to the sounds of thunder. If you are the lucky owner of a dog that falls into the category of herding dogs, then your pup is expected to have a higher propensity for thunder-related fear.
There are nineteen distinct dog breeds that are considered herding dog breeds include...
- Australian Cattle Dogs
- Australian Shepherds
- Bearded Collies
- Belgian Malinois
- Belgian Sheepdogs
- Belgian Tervurens
- Border Collies
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Canaan Dogs
- Cardigan Welsh Corgis
- Rough Collies
- Smooth Collies
- German Shepherd Dogs
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Pembroke Welsh Corgis
- Polish Lowland Sheepdogs
- Puli Dogs
- Shetland Sheepdogs
Whether your dog is a purebred or a mixed breed, if the genetic makeup of your pet includes any of these dog breeds, your pup is predisposed to being more anxious in the midst of thunderstorms.
It might fascinate you to learn about this information because herding dogs spend a lot of time outside, whether rain or shine. They are known for their abilities to gather groups of livestock and round them up whenever necessary.
So why do dog breeds that are explicitly bred for the sake of herding terrified of thunder during a storm? Well, the fact that their main purpose is to herd cattle plays into their phobia.
Herding dog breeds know that their mission is to keep livestock safe and secure when moving around the pastures. Thunder is a very obvious, albeit natural, a warning sign that a torrential downpour or a chaotic storm is on the horizon. So the loud booming sound that thunder makes is very alarming for herding dogs.
And even though they are outside for a decent amount of time every day, it does not mean that they are used to the sound of thunder, or that they are not scared of thunder since they have heard it so often. Being exposed to thunder time and time again does not lower the fear-based response that dogs exhibit during thunderstorms.
If your dog is known for exhibiting anxious behavior, then it might be no surprise to you that thunderstorms cause your pup to elicit similar, if not the same, behavior. Canines that struggle with separation anxiety are very likely to have thunderstorm phobias as well. The same rings true for dogs that spent a decent amount of time in animal shelters, as well as dogs that have been rehomed time and time again.
Once you know how your anxious dog reacts to thunder, you will learn how to bring down the heightened energy of the situation. Sometimes, that entails playing music that your dog loves in order to drown out the loud sounds of the thunder outside.
Other times, it might mean taking your dog into the garage and playing fetch as a distraction from the craziness going on outdoors. Just make sure you do not close the door to the garage! Confined spaces, as well as the inability to move between rooms, can cause your dog to experience even more anxiety.
Even if your dog hasn't ever experienced a thunderstorm before, if your pup is an anxious dog by nature, then you can prepare for the situation, should it ever arise. Being prepared is one of the best things you can do when you own a dog and a thunderstorm is part of the weather forecast.
Have a tentative plan in place, such as keeping your dog’s favorite blanket and toys nearby at all times. Things that are familiar always make thunderstorms more bearable, so if you don’t have experience calming your dog down during a storm, toys, and blankets are great backup plans.
Gender of Your Dog
The gender of your dog plays a major role in their response to thunderstorms. Whether or not your dog is neutered and fixed, paired with the pup’s gender, will give you insight into what to expect during a thunderstorm, too.
Compared to their male counterparts, female dogs are naturally more inclined to have a thunder phobia. Among male dogs, those that have been neutered show more signs and symptoms of thunderstorm phobia than male dogs that have not been fixed.
Past Experiences Your Dog Has Endured
The past has a hold on dogs just like it does for humans. If your dog has gone through a traumatic situation at some point in their lives, they will develop an adverse response to any situation that mirrors the one where trauma was involved. So, say your dog has a history of getting nervous during thunderstorms, it will be inevitable that the behavior will resurface whenever thunderstorms take place.
Your dogs do not have to live with debilitating thunder phobias for the rest of their lives. It takes time and effort to rewire your dog’s natural responses to thunder, but working with a professional will expedite the process. The sooner your dog receives therapy to work through the post-traumatic stress responses, the easier thunderstorms will be for you and your dog alike!
Age of Your Pet
But when your puppy experiences their first thunderstorm, they will be able to handle any that take place in the future. This is especially true when they know they’ll always be able to rely on you! Age is the main player in your dog’s tolerance for thunderstorms. Puppies are not able to understand what is going on, and the confusion they feel can often come out as anxiety. Older dogs are used to life events, such as thunderstorms, simply because they have years of experience behind them.
While genetics play a key role in anxiety, your dog’s personality is equally as important in this situation! For example, is your dog energetic and very playful? If so, it might make more sense to let your canine roam around outdoors rather than keep them inside during a thunderstorm. Other dogs, such as those with introverted personality traits, might get even more stressed and nervous if they are outside when the thunder booms in the sky.
Dogs that startle very easily will have more thunderstorm phobias than dogs that seem like nothing can stop them. Dogs with big personalities and canines that love to run up to other dogs in an attempt to make friends are two other types of pups that will handle a thunderstorm fairly well, whereas dogs that keep to themselves more are probably going to have a panicked response to thunder.
History of Medical Conditions
If your dog is stressing out about a thunderstorm, their fear is valid and warranted. But sometimes, pet owners can tell if their dog's behavior does not match the situation in a way that the dog would usually behave. There are many physiological factors that can cause a dog to be more anxious than usual, or expected.
When there is too much stimulation in the part of the brain responsible for memory and fear, dogs and people alike respond with very heightened reactions. Similar circumstances might be underway if your dog appears to be extremely anxious during thunderstorms.
A few medical conditions that might be causing a strong reaction in your dog include...
- Addison's disease
- Arthritis in canines
- Hypothyroid disease
Ten Pro Tips for Pet Owners with Anxious Dogs During Thunderstorms
Knowing the reasons behind your dog’s thunderstorm phobias is one thing, but the next step is to figure out how to make your dog more comfortable during the storm. Some of these tips and tricks for dogs during thunderstorms can be applied to all canines, while other ideas might not work for every dog with thunderstorm phobia. Use your best judgment and try the suggestions that you think your dog will respond to the best!
Don't Leave Your Puppy Alone
Whatever you do, please never abandon your dog when a thunderstorm is happening. All canines need when the thunder frightens them is someone familiar whom they understand they can feel safe with, depend on, and trust.
For your dog, that person is you! If you live in a part of the world that usually experiences thunderstorms, keep an eye on the forecast during the season that thunderstorms are most popular. Plan to stay home with your dog, or at the very least, take your dog with you if you’ll be away from the house when the thunderstorm is predicted to hit.
Make Your Home Comfortable When Thunderstorms Happen
Another step you can take is to close the blinds when the thunder is rumbling up above. Even though thunder is more audible than visual, the closed blinds will create an extra barrier between the indoors and the storm taking place outside. Do whatever your dog needs you to do in order to feel as safe as possible over the course of a thunderstorm. Take extra measures to keep your house safe, calm, and comfortable for your dog. If your pup likes to tuck himself into his crate when thunder rolls around, add extra blankets, a bowl of water, some bones as a snack and anything else that you know will keep your dog feeling as comfortable as possible.
Reach Out to Professional Dog Trainers for Support with the Thunderstorm Phobias
Professional dog trainers, breeders, and handlers carry a lot of wisdom when it comes to helping dogs during unfortunate circumstances. For example, a very well-known and respected dog show judge by the name of Pat Hastings has some wisdom to share about calming down an anxious dog during a thunderstorm.
If your dog is starting to get wound up as the thunderstorm starts to pick up, take peppermint oil and place a small amount on the bottom of your dog's four paws. Not even Pat Hastings knows for sure why this is a productive and effective remedy for dogs during a thunderstorm, but the point is that it works wonders!
The idea is that the calming nature of the essential oil will relax your dog's anxious body, slow their movements so that they are not jittery from the stress, and slowly relax your dog while the thunderstorm transpires. Also, the calming effect distracts dogs from what is going on outside, so that is another benefit of peppermint oil.
The seven other tips for dog owners with pets that have thunderstorm phobias are…
- If you know a thunderstorm is coming, play with your dog and take your pup on a walk
- Try your best to remain calm during the thunderstorm
- Make a noise or play music when the thunderstorm is happening
- Distract your pet so that your dog does not focus on the thunder
- Cuddle and hang out right next to your dog during the storm
- Work with an animal behaviorist if thunderstorm anxiety is affecting your dog’s health
- Try natural anxiety-reducing remedies like CBD oil
Where to Purchase CBD for Dogs with Thunderstorm Phobias?
Cannabidiol can seriously improve your dog’s tendencies to feel anxious during thunderstorms, and in everyday life, too! In fact, CBD for dogs with thunderstorm anxiety is a tried and true method of eliminating the fear that so many anxious dogs feel during storms.
If you are looking for CBD oil to help your dog relax when thunder is in the sky, then you should take a look at the inventory of Innovet. From cannabidiol doggy treats and full-spectrum CBD oil to chewy snacks with CBD and capsules that contain cannabidiol for dogs, there is an array of products to choose from when looking to calm your anxious dog's thunder-related neuroses.
The CBD products sold by Innovet are of the highest quality, full-spectrum cannabidiol oil that is specifically designed with your dogs in mind. The levels of THC fall at or below the maximum amount permitted for canine consumption and all Innovet products are triple-checked for quality before being distributed to pet owners and their dogs.
Sometimes, all it takes to find what works best is to try everything until something sticks.No matter the form that the CBD is in, cannabidiol is effective when it comes to treating dogs with severe thunderstorm phobias. Your dog will experience a much calmer mindset and be able to handle the situation with far more confidence. For CBD that helps dogs that are scared of thunder, take a peek at everything from Innovet! The difference between the various CBD products from Innovet has to do with your dog’s preferences. Some canine companions do not take well to the oil applied externally to their fur, and in that case, CBD products like chewy treats and treats with cannabidiol might suit dogs like this much better than CBD oil.
Sources:When Your Dog Is Afraid of Storm
Fear of Thunderstorms and Fireworks
Helping Dogs with Severe Phobias During Storms and Fireworks
Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
The Endocannabinoid System and Anxiety
Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug