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Dealing With Dogs and Thunders

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Seeing your pet companion struggle with a fear of thunder is heartbreaking. If your dog is terrified of thunderstorms, you may notice that he or she hides in a small area, shakes or trembles, barks, howls, whines, paces restlessly, drools, or exhibits destructive behavior.

So, what makes dogs afraid of thunder? To be fair, storms are enormous, violent, and complex weather events. It should come as no surprise that there is no straightforward answer. However, by considering the probable causes of canine noise aversion to static electricity, you can do what you need to protect your furry friend and reduce his or her concern about the impending storm.

Fear of thunder is influenced by a variety of factors. Initially, your main goal should be to calm your furry friend. Then, you might consult with an animal behaviorist to determine the primary contributing reason and seek professional advice on how to address it. For example, the expert may show you how to progressively desensitize your pet to avoid future distress.

Some dog breeds are naturally timid or cautious, and they require extra persuasion and socialization to overcome situational anxiety—particularly in unfamiliar situations or with new people. Anxiety as a separate condition arises as well, frequently as a result of genetics, traumatic events, and various life experiences.

Though vets aren’t sure what all of the triggers are, they believe that a full-blown storm phobia is triggered by a mix of barometric pressure changes, static electricity, wind, thunder, lightning, and low-frequency rumbles that occur before a storm.

The fear of thunder and lightning is known as astraphobia. Your dog may also be afraid of other loud, especially unexpected, sounds.

Many canines are afraid of noises ranging from fireworks and gunfire to thunderstorms. A noise phobia may be the primary reason your dog is terrified of storms, or it may be one of numerous variables that contribute to your furry friend’s phobia.

If you have a border collie or an Australian shepherd, they may have a genetic susceptibility to develop noise phobias, as do a few other breeds. 

Vets advise not fussing over your dog during a storm since it can reinforce their fear. This isn’t to say you can’t cuddle with them or console them, but your reaction to the situation influences theirs. If your dog will interact with you during a storm, it is recommended to attempt to change their emotional reaction to the event. Close the blinds in a smaller space and then bring out all of their favorite toys. This alters your dog’s perception of the noise, and perhaps, they will no longer associate it with impending doom.

Finally, discuss with your veterinarian whether medication should be used as an additional dog thunderstorm anxiety treatment if none of the other coping techniques work. There are various prescription medicines on the market that help dogs cope with anxiety; some of these are fast-acting and can be given at the first hint of anxiety.

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