Cure Dog Of Fearing Thunder

Dog looking back at lightning

Our dogs are part of our family and it is heartbreaking to watch as a dog goes into a panic attack because of a thunderstorm, fireworks going off, or other loud noises such as a gun being fired.

This fear is a common form of anxiety for dogs. I have also had a dog with this fear and whatever you do, don’t ignore this behavior because it is real and the dog is suffering. They do not get over it and it will get worse over time.

So, I am here to help guide you with the information you need to cure a dog of fearing thunder.

Why Do Dogs Go Into A Panic Attack?

Dogs always seem to know when a storm is coming, it is unknown what particular things that triggers the panic attack. It could be a combination of things. However, these items have been witnessed by others to send the dog straight in to a panic attack.Lighting

  • Wind
  • Thunder
  • Lightning
  • Barometric pressure change
  • Static build up in the air
  • Low frequency thunder that we can’t hear

Remember you are not alone. Research shows that 47% of all dogs have shown a fear for a loud noise at least once and 1 out of 4 (25%) of dogs have a fear of loud noises.

Some breeds are less susceptible to have a fear of loud noises and older dogs have a higher chance of developing the fear for loud noises.

How Dogs Act On The Onset And During A Panic Attack

There are things that your dog may do when a storm is coming or when fireworks start going off. They may do any or all.of the following.

  • Pace back and forth
  • Pant heavily like they are hot. This is a good sign that your dog is in distress.
  • Try to stay as close as they can to you
  • Get inside a closet where it is dark
  • Try to fit themselves behind the toilet
  • Chew up carpet
  • Tear through drywall
  • Break windows

These are all signs of a dog that is afraid.

Teach Your Dog How To Stay Calm

One of the things you need to teach your dog is to settle and focus, so he can stay calm. This is where you would reward your dog for calm behavior. But, how do we get there?

First, have a leash on the dog to keep him close. This leash should not be the one you used to go outside. You need an indoor leash, one that you only use inside, so your dog will understand that you are not going outside.

Lead your dog to the place you want him to settle. Try to make it one where he can’t hear the thunder or loud noises as good, or a place he likes to go. Make your dog lay down, but not by force. Lightly touch your dog to get him in the position you need.

When your dog is in that position name the action you made him do. To name the action, praise your dog with a sentence like this, “good lay down” or whatever name you have given the action. Remember to use that name when you are giving him the command or praising him. It is important that everyone in the house uses the same word or your dog will get confused. When he has learned the word, he will know what to do when you say the command.

Training treats may also be given as you praise your dog. But only one treat for each time he does the action. Make sure to just give little pieces, so he will want to do the action again to get another treat. Practice every time you can, practice year round, and don’t start the training when your dog is already panicking.

Use Training Cues

Cues are signals that communicate to your dog that there is an action you want him to do. We covered two already. When you grab the inside leash and when you give him your chosen command.

Another cue could be playing the same music every time. Something calming to help drown out the noise. The goal is that when you grab the leash, go to the room or place chosen, give the command, and have the same music playing, your dog should know what to do and where to go. This will help him stay calm.

Desensitize Your Dog To The Noise

To desensitize means to free your dog from a fear, by gradually exposing him to the thing he fears. By playing a CD with the sounds of thunder you can desensitize your dog from that fear.

Play the CD softly at first then gradually increase the sound. If your dog begins to feel anxious, don’t go any louder until he is comfortable with it.

This should be preformed at a time of year when fireworks and thunder storms are less likely to occur. That way you have control of the situation and you will be able to pick when and where this will occur.

Do this as much as you can to get your dog used to the noise. The theory is that if the dog is used to the sound it will help him remain calm. However, this can not reproduce the other things that happen during the storm, like the static electricity or the barometric pressure.

Your Dog’s Safe Place

Some dogs like to go to a confined place when scared, where they can hide, or as we would call it your dog’s safe place.

Observe where your dog goes.Dog in dog bed It could be a basement, a closet, a crate, an interior room, or a bathroom. Let your dog decide, as long as it is safe for him. Make it comfortable for him, by putting his favorite blanket and toys there. Play soft music and stay with them.

Let your dog come and go as he pleases. Never confine him to the space. The fear of being confined will only make the panic attack worse.

What Else Can I Do?

Your dog’s safe place should be blacked out, so flashing lights can not be seen. Make sure all windows and doors, even interior doors, are closed to muffle the sound. Ignore the storm or fireworks yourself. Act as if nothing is different. Try to distract your dog by playing with his toys with him or whatever game he likes to play.

Another thing to try is a compression garment that hugs the dog tightly like a baby being swaddled. Also, some use a metal fabric lined cape to protect the dog from static shock.

Your Dog also needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian. They may have suggestions or advice for you and your dog. They may also prescribe an anti-anxiety medication that your dog will take every day of the storm season or only on days that are stormy.

What Should I Not Do?

Never yell or punish your dog for this behavior. To your dog that confirms there is something real to fear and it will make the panic attack worse next time.

Also, if you are upset or anxious about your dog’s behavior, the dog will sense it and it will make it harder to calm him down.

Another thing people do is to try to console the dog. As hard as it is you should not, try to console him, pet him, or hold him. Your dog will see this as a reward for the behavior and it will be worse the next time. Try to ignore the fearful behavior and reward calm behavior.

When you have successfully trained your dog the cues, desensitized him from thunder, provided him a safe place, and spoken to your veterinarian your dog should be cured of his fear, and be able to stay calm.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments please use the place below. As I know firsthand, how hard it is with a dog afraid of loud noises. However, with patience and hard work, I think you too, can achieve a calm dog.

Remember a happy dog a happy home!

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