Not only is it heartbreaking to watch a pet tremble and whine during a thunderstorm, there is a risk a frightened pet could escape and bolt. Get strategies to keep nervous pets calm during thunderstorms, reduce the risk of a runaway pet, and enjoy peace of mind.
Why Thunderstorms Scare Dogs
Your pet has better hearing than you do, so the sounds of wind, rain, and thunder can be overwhelming to those sensitive ears. When a storm comes, winds kick up, heavy rains pound the house, and the earth smells different. You might not notice these changes, but your pet will pick up on them. Sudden atmospheric changes frighten your pet, and they might worry they are in danger.
Signs that a dog is scared of a thunderstorm include pacing, panting, whining, shaking, drooling, and barking. Dogs tend to either hide somewhere in the house or act like your shadow. When the storm hits, pets with severe storm phobia can become destructive, chewing through your carpets or scratching the paint off your doors.
Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm in Thunderstorms
While medication is an option for dogs who are scared of thunderstorms, many owners find success with behavioral techniques. Next time a storm occurs, try:
- Distracting your dog with food
- Playing music to drown out the sound of the storm
- Playing with your dog’s favorite toy
- Swaddling your dog in a cozy wrap shirt, which soothes pressure points
- Crating your dog with a bone or special treat
- Rewarding your pet with food or affection for staying calm
During storm season, give your pet plenty of exercise. A tired pup will be more interested in napping than overreacting to a storm.
Always keep your dog inside during a storm, as a pet leashed outside could break free and run away. As a precaution, make sure your pet’s tags are up to date and consider microchipping your pet in case they run away.
Not all of these tips will work for your pup, but you should find one or two techniques that are highly effective. Your veterinarian and dog trainer are good resources for all of your behavioral management questions, including how to keep pets calm in thunderstorms.