Keeping Your Dog Safe During A Thunderstorm

PetGuide logo

Personally, I love thunderstorms – as long as I’m inside, enjoying the light show from the comfort of my own couch. But I know of many dogs that absolutely hate thunder and lightning. They shake uncontrollably; they duck for cover under furniture or the covers; and some are so scared, they make a break for it and try to outrun the storm by escaping their safe enclosures.

There’s no easy fix for this problem and it usually can’t be trained out of your pooch. If your dog is frightened of thunderstorms, we’ve put together a few tips the next time dark clouds roll in.

I always advocate crate training, as this is your dog’s comfortable den where he can go for some peace and quiet. A crate offers them a safe place to hide from those scary thunderstorms. Be sure to equip it with a soft blanket and a favorite toy or two. These familiar items will help him relax and let him know that he’s safe in his fortress of solitude.

You’ve no doubt heard of the Thundershirt, but there are many different snug-fitting shirts and wraps ‘that are designed to calm anxious dogs. You know how swaddling seems to calm a cranky baby? Well, these garments have the same effect on your dog. They shouldn’t be worn constantly, but if the forecast is calling for thunder, it’s time to slip one of these shirts on your dog.

If your dog hasn’t been crate train, you can still make him a comfortable with a place where he feels safe. It could be a bedroom or the basement, as long can’t see or hear what’s going on outside. Place some calming music and outfit the area with plenty of blankets. You should never force your dog to go into this safe room. See where he hides the next time a thunderstorm rolls through – consider this his safe place and make sure he has access to it when he needs it.

You don’t want to reward your dog when he is scared, as it may encourage more of the same. Instead, reward him when he’s calm and relaxed. Do this year-round, not just when it rains. You can teach your dog a “Settle” command that discourages clingy or erratic behavior. But this doesn’t mean you should punish or ignore your dog when he exhibits anxiety during a thunderstorm. Instead, try to distract him with a game of fetch and by giving him treats when he calms down.

When nothing else will calm your dog and you fear for his health, going to your vet for a medical opinion is necessary. For natural or over-the-counter remedies, you may want to try products that contain Bach flower extracts, lavender oil (in a diffuser) or Licks Liquid Vitamins’ Zen supplement . If his behavior is extreme, it’s time to go to the vet, who will be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication. There’s no reason why your dog should suffer because of his phobia.

Is your dog scared of thunderstorms? What do you do to ease his anxiety? Please share your tips and tricks in the comment section below.