It’s raining outside, and the sound of the heavy drops begins creating a commotion inside your home. Then the sound of thunder sends your dog ducking for cover under the bed. The truth is, dogs don’t really understand what’s going on outside. It would be tough to sit them down in front of the weather channel where a meteorologist can explain what’s going on right now. Instead, some dogs might think it’s a stranger trying to invade their home, while others have no idea what’s going on as they try to get away from the noise and commotion. Regardless of how your dog acts, when they’re reacting to thunder and lightning, it can be a little disconcerting to any loving owner. No one likes to see their dog dealing with the fear of the unknown, and by letting them know that they aren’t alone, we can help our four-legged friends cope with their worries.
Sometimes dogs are scared of thunder and lightning, but other sounds can have the same effect. Have you ever noticed that your pup may also be scared of fireworks when other loud sounds don’t seem to bother them? Like people, fear is sometimes developed for a good reason. Your dog may have encountered something that hurt them physically or mentally. When you adopt a rescued dog, you don’t always know what their history might be. Fear may be a developed problem, often making the issue that much harder to address.
Working with your dog during the storm
Your best place to start is by giving them a safe place to hide. Crates and other comfortable places should be available to them, even if that comfortable place is under the covers with you. Don’t get frustrated or angry at them because they won’t listen. Instead, go to them if you have to retrieve them. You’ll only make the situation worse if you get mad at them for being scared of something they don’t quite understand. But remember, no place is completely safe when thunder is an audible sound that travels through the air.
What you have to do is compete for attention. Try utilizing white noise, such as fans and other background sounds. Music played extra loud is an excellent play for interference, or you can even turn the volume up on the television while the two of you cuddle up on the couch. By tuning your dog’s ears to what’s going on inside the house, you take their mind off what’s going on outside.
You can go a little further by making the situation as positive as possible. Play with your dog, even if it’s just throwing the ball around or giving them a chew toy to gnaw on for a while. Give them a treat for being good while you practice a few tricks. Of course, treats come in all sorts and sizes, so don’t limit the fun to just one form of treat.
Practice makes perfect
Desensitizing by familiarization is one of the best ongoing therapies for breaking your dog’s fear of thunder. Recordings of thunderstorms or even waterfalls can be utilized to create background noise that your dog can practice with. By playing these types of recordings while you play with or treat your dog, they begin to familiarize the sound as something that’s actually good. And next time, instead of being scared, they’ll come running up to you wanting to play or get their treat.
Regularly play recordings of thunder or similar noises when you spend time with your dog, but if you’re leaving, don’t let the recording stay on. Their attention isn’t on you or the fun experience anymore, and they may associate the noise with you leaving them, causing more harm than good. For the best benefits, only use recordings to build a positive atmosphere.
Dogs are incredibly smart and they can learn just about anything we are willing to teach them. And, basic tricks aren’t the only thing your dog pays attention to when you give instruction. They watch how we act, sit, and even treat others around us. Whatever we do, our dogs watch and learn, even if it’s only a piece or fragment of what is going on around them. The best thing we can do is set a good example by not being scared ourselves, and being there to comfort them when they need the attention. Don’t let your dog deal with their fears on their own, because they surely wouldn’t let you take your fears on all by yourself.