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Dogs' Fear of Thunder

Martha Stewart Living Television

Dogs tend to react badly to the clamor of thunder; as the weather asserts itself with a crash and boom, your dog may move especially close to you, or run around the house in a panic and even hide. There are, however, a number of ways to help keep your dog calm during a storm. 

Offer your pets familiar toys and let them ride out the storm in a favorite spot. Muffle the noise of the weather by turning on the television or radio. Close the blinds or shades to hide the lightning flashes. You can also distract your pet with a new chew toy or Kong filled with layers of peanut butter, cream cheese, or even lamb-flavored baby food. Play a game of hide and seek or try teaching your dog a trick. Should you find the dog particularly anxious, try rubbing a small amount of baby oil on the outer part of the ear; the oil will give a little padding to the tympanic nerves and help muffle the thunder. 

If you play thunder noises on tape, your dog may very well become desensitized to the real thing. Begin by playing it at low volume and increase the level as he or she grows more accustomed to the sound.

Whatever you do, don't coddle your dog. This reinforces their fear and lets them know it's good to be anxious, worried, and scared because it results in a surplus of attention. If, however, your dog suffers from an extreme case of thunder phobia and none of these tips do the trick, a vet can prescribe anti-anxiety medications

Comments (2)

  • Irenemelfi 1 May, 2013

    I agree with Linda B...I have recently used a Thundershirt for my Shih Tzu who was so terrified by thunderstorms that he would actually attempt to climb the fence to get away if he got outside. The shirt worked wonders. He is not totally relaxed, but he is now able to handle the storm with minimal panting and terror.

  • Linda_B 1 May, 2013

    There is also a product available now called a Thundershirt. They are available online and at some pet stores but they work wonders. The effect they have on the dog is similar to swaddling a baby, My sister has a lab that is terrified of storms and I couldn't believe it when the Thundershirt was put on him he stopped panting and laid down calmly. He will even go out into the yard if he is wearing his shirt. A great alternative to having to medicate!!