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November 26, 2021

Why Are So Many Dogs Afraid of Storms?

Almost 70 percent of Americans have a dog in the household. However, though the dog is a staple of the American family, not every dog behaves in the same way.

With the rise of social awareness around mental illness in humans, many people have questioned exactly what causes their dogs to tick. There are many dogs afraid of storms — but have you ever thought that these dogs might be suffering from dog anxiety?

Anxiety in pets is more common than it seems, and it’s no shame if your pet is scared of storms. This article will walk you through why storms are so scary to pets, and some of the steps you can take to keep them comfortable. 

Loud Noises

Many dogs aren’t the biggest fans of loud noises. It’s easy to understand why. Dogs are domesticated — they’re not used to having to defend themselves against big scary sounds. 

We, as humans, don’t freak out around loud noises, because we understand where they come from. However, when a dog hears a fire alarm, a truck, or even a thunderstorm, they won’t be able to process it. 

The loud sound of wind and rain might also scare your dog. They’ll likely try to hide under your bed, to try to drown the noises out. 

However, this raises the question — why? 

Dogs were domesticated from wolves, and they keep many of their wolfish instincts. Though they’re man’s best friend, they won’t hesitate to do something completely alien to us. Any dog owner who has seen their dog catch a squirrel will understand. 

So why should dogs become terrified when a perfectly natural occurrence happens? 

Scientists aren’t sure exactly. It could have to do with the mixture of domestic and natural settings. Most of the time your dog is hearing the sound of a storm from within your house

To your dog, your house is their world. When they hear a storm, they might not be able to process that the noises is happening on the outside of the house. 

For all they know, the house might be trying to attack them!

Consider also the sound of rain hitting a house — it’s a very particular sound. That sort of sound might not be deeply programmed into your dog’s instinct, causing them to fear it. 

As dogs recognize that storms and rain are regular occurrences, they tend to become more scared. This is because they associate them with negative emotions.

Strange Sights

The visual aspect of a storm affects a dog in a similar way. If the thunderstorm is very close and is happening at night, lightning flashes could very well briefly light up your house. 

Once again, your dog has no way of understanding that the flash is coming from outside of the house. This rapid flickering of the lights, accompanied by the sound, is foreign to them. 

Storms also cause darkness to fall much quicker than it normally does. Your dog simply might be freaked out by the fact that their schedule is getting thrown off. 

Physical Discomfort 

But it’s not just the senses of sight and sound that get upset dogs during thunderstorms, their sense of touch gets physically disturbed by storms as well.  

Thunderstorms charge the air with static electricity. This causes dogs — particularly those with longer coasts — to experience static to build up in their coats. This might cause them minor physical discomfort. 

Minor discomfort is one thing — but why does this cause dogs to freak out? Well, when you couple the minor physical discomfort with the major BOOMs coming out of the sky, it can seem like the world is coming around down your dog. 

Dogs’ noses are famously wet. If your dog brushes their wet nose up against something metal, they may receive a shock.

Your dog won’t be able to understand why exactly this shock happened. It can lead them to become generally afraid of storms.

Great Ears 

Dogs, famously, have great ears. They can hear things at much lower volumes than we can hear. Not only that, but they can also hear frequencies that human ears simply cannot.

Your dog may well hear the storm coming far before you do. This can cause a sense of dread to build up in them. By the time the storm actually does arise, they could be so upset that they overreact. 

What Can You Do? 

Always stay calm when your dog freaks out during a thunderstorm. Consoling them excessively could enforce in their head that storms are a big deal. Lead by example, and show them that storms are nothing to be afraid of. 

Give your dog positive reinforcement — something more similar to what you would do when you rewarded them. Share with them a favorite treat and play with them. Try to distract them from the storm so that they learn to tune it out. 

If your dog is truly inconsolable during a thunderstorm, you might have to turn to medication. However, dog anxiety mediations don’t always work and can cause side effects. 

This is why we recommend trying dog CBD treats. CBD is completely natural and will help your dog relax their way through the storm. 

CBD dog treats have much less CBD in them than CBD products that humans would consume, so you can rest assured that they’re not having too much. 

Dogs Afraid of Storms? It Isn’t Too Bad

There are many dogs afraid of storms. If your dog is one of them, it can hurt to see them that way. However, now you understand exactly why they get freaked out. 

Make sure that you don’t treat the storm like it’s a big deal, or you’ll end up reinforcing the fact that your dog needs you for comfort. If it gets truly bad, consider trying a dog CBD product. 

For more information, contact us today.