Why Does My Dog Hate Thunderstorms?
We’ve had a few thunderstorms lately and Floss is one of many dogs who can be pretty anxious when they hear the rumble of thunder. Most people believe it is the loud sound of rumbling thunder claps that frighten dogs. However, research suggests there could be another reason. In this article, Holidays4Dogs discusses why dogs might be fearful of thunderstorms and what can help to soothe an anxious dog.
Some dogs can really feel a sense of panic during a thunderstorm, running around whining, trying to hide, drooling and panting. Sometimes, it’s not easy to know the best way to help a dog that is clearly in distress. However, knowing why the dog is feeling fearful, can help owners understand how best to comfort them.
Scientists have discovered the volume of thunder claps might only be one reason why our dogs run scared. What some studies have shown is that is could be static electricity, created through a storm, that makes our dogs feel anxious and uncomfortable. This is because of the feeling of static electricity running through their fur. This may explain why many dogs run around the house as if they are seeking a place that is grounded and away from the effects of static electricity.
You may notice your dog will run for a small enclosed space, such as his crate or under the bed. This may support the theory that he is experiencing discomfort from static electricity. If he dives under the bed, or into another small space, let him stay there and don’t try and coax him out. If he runs into his crate, try covering it with a rug or blanket which will increase his sense of security.
Places that are grounded are areas such as basements, bathtubs and any small enclosed space. If your dog hates baths, placing him in the bathtub may create even greater anxiety! However, other tips suggested by scientists to minimise the effects of static electricity, are to rub your dog’s coat with tumble dryer sheets. There was some controversy over this method, since tumble dryer sheets may contain chemicals that the dog may subsequently lick from his fur. Others suggest comfort jackets – known as ‘thunder’ jackets – can help to calm a dog that is really bothered by the effects of thunderstorms.
I wonder whether there might also be another reason, since I often suffer from headaches and nausea during thunderstorms. Although, it is not understood why humans can suffer from weather related headaches, there is a lot of evidence to show that people do develop headaches during thunderstorms. This can also happen when weather conditions barometric pressure. Is it possible that dogs too could suffer from headaches associated with swings in weather related pressure?
Whatever the case, it is quite alright to soothe and comfort your dog. You can also try distracting him with something highly desirable like really tasty treats, a meaty bone. The premise here is to counter-condition his response to the thunderstorm by associating it with something pleasurable. By diverting his attention onto something else, this may help to recondition his response to thunderstorms and reduce anxiety.
There are plenty of calming remedies for dogs such as those based on Bach flower essences. Many owners report these have a positive effect on their dogs during thunderstorms. There are other oils and calming pheromones such as DAP diffusers that also might of help to some dogs.