Why do house dogs freak out during thunderstorms?

And what can you do for them when they are whining during a thunderstorm. You pet them, they keep whining. You throw a steak under their nose, they keep whining. You tell them to knock it off, they whine even louder. Why do they freak out during thunderstorms and how do you calm them down?

It’s not just house dogs. There are pressure changes which dogs ears are sensitive to–have you ever heard your TV weatherman talk about high pressure systems or low pressure systems? Also, thunder produces low level vibrations that disturb dogs that they can hear and feel before the storm is close enough for us to hear the thunder–our ears don’t pick up the low frequency sounds that they do. This is also why dogs and lots of other animals pick up on earthquakes before they happen. The point is, your dog is reacting to things that he hears or feels that you don’t that he knows are not normal. I’m not sure you can do anything, except maybe turn on some music with good bass. You can also be thankful–dogs are great predicters of things like tornadoes and earthquakes and may one day save your life if you pay attention. Did you read in the news about how no animals were lost in the Tsunami that hit Thailand a few years ago, because they all sensed it coming and fled? Their owners should have been so smart.

We have 2 rat terriers and 2 labs and they are fine. You have to get them to focus on something besides the noise outside. The most important thing…do NOT baby talk them or talk in a high pitched voice with ‘it’s ok honey’, ‘it’s a scary storm, I know’, etc. That will make it worse the next time. You’ll just be feeding their fear. Instead perhaps play with them, give them a snack after a few minutes of playing to let them know that’s better and more fun than shaking and crying during the storm. Good luck! If they like to be kenneled, you could put them in the kennel then to help them feel ‘safe.’ Just an extra thought!

I finally tried a white noise app on my phone to see if it helped my blue heeler and shockingly it did. I m ordering an actual machine now, but if you want to check if it will work, download a free app to your phone and see next time there s a storm. Good luck I feel so bad for my dog during storms, and for my family since he barks and we have jobs and school so we re all exhausted when there s a storm. I ve tried the Thundershirt (makes him pant like he s hot), I have 2 diffusers in room where he sleeps (my bedroom), I spray calming spray and give him calming treats. None of those even when used all together work very well. I started seeking alternate treatments because when I told the vet he game me something that makes him lathargic for a few days following. I can t see him like that, it s sad. Hope the white noise works for you like it does me. Also I tried other noises but only the white worked best.

They freak out in thunderstorms because the atmosphere is filled with atomically charged molecules of static electricity; there are sudden changes in the barometric pressure; rolling claps of thunder shake the house; and bright lights flash through water flying all around. Dogs are more sensitive to noise, so there may be hissing, crackling, or high-pitched sounds they hear but we don’t.
One of my dog thinks it’s the house itself that’s causing the problem, especially when there’s thunder, so she tries to run outside, but it’s scary out there too. She whines to tell me to make it stop, there’s something wrong and she doesn’t know what to do. Try turning on the radio or TV at a high volume to mask the storm sounds. If you can stay with them, find a place where your dog feels safe (under the blankets, in the car, etc.); petting and soothing talk should stop the whining and trembling, but they’ll remain frightened until the noise stops.
Fireworks and other sudden or loud noises (sonic booms, vacuum cleaners, car backfires) are also frightening to dogs. Prior to July 4th and New Years, I get a prescription of Valium from my veterinarian. Given as directed (one hour prior to event) really helps.
Desensitizing your dog can help, but takes commitment. You can acquire recordings of storms (or fireworks) which you then play at different times of the day, increasing the volume over a period of weeks. None of this will stop the house from reverberating in thunder storms, but reducing your dog’s fear of noise will help him (and you) weather the storm.
Good Luck.

Studies show that fear of thunder is most common in herding dogs and sight hounds. It’s not something a dog has any control over whatsoever so telling them to “knock it off” isn’t going to help much. It’s due to the change in atmospheric pressure.

You can do a couple of things. One is get a prescription for tranquilizers from your vet. I used those for one of mine who’s afraid of thunder, but the side affects are not acceptable – leaves the dog really dopey (on half a dose) for a long time.

I use Bach’s Flower Essences, Rescue Remedy, all natural, takes about 20 minutes to work and is enough to calm the dog. Mine is a 70 pound dog and he gets 4 drops. It’s available from holistic vets, health stores and some drug stores.

The other thing I’ve found that helps is if the dog can get somewhere he feels confined, behind a large chair, maybe even in the basement, in some tight corner.

Don’t scold the dog when he is doing this-you will just reinforce the behavior. Try to get his mind off it by playing with him and rewarding him for not whining. Dogs will bark and whine because they are afraid of the unknown and they can hear things within a storm long before we can. When you have a possiblity of having storms notice his behavior changes before it hits-they know up to 30 minutes before we do-and try to get him into a good game of play. Soothing them will also reinforce the behavior so if playing doesn’t work just try to ignore it and don’t get all worked up because he will sense that energy and think he needs to whine more.

My dog used to freak out during thunderstorms and would climb on my bed, their ears are very sensitive, I suppose they don´t understand what is happening with all that noise.
I used to pet him until he calmed down, or the storm calmed down, but don´t scold him, he´s just scared, and it happens to most dogs, just be patient.

A dog should be trained on how to eat, walk with you, not to bark, potty training and sleep on its place etc. You can teach anything to your puppy, dogs get trained easily with some good instructions. If you want some good training tips visit https://tr.im/p7n73

If properly trained, they should also understand whistle and gesture equivalents for all the relevant commands, e.g. short whistle or finger raised sit, long whistle or flat hand lay down, and so on.

It’s important that they also get gestures and whistles as voice may not be sufficient over long distances and under certain circumstances.

I had a Female Chihuahua once and she was the exact same way. I will not say this will break it 100% but it does help. Get it a little dogy box (bed) that is enclosed put its own little blanket in with it. Tends to make them feel secure
even during thunderstorms. Good luck. -Been there!! ha!


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