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How to Calm a Dog During a Storm: 8 Proven Ways

Codee Chessher

By Codee Chessher

dog afraid of thunderstorm

Thunderstorms are some of the scariest events for some pups, who have no way of knowing that what’s going on is perfectly normal. Scared dogs can show extreme signs of anxiety, like impromptu accidents indoors, hiding, or even destructive chewing, as coping mechanisms.

The good news is that there are several ways you can ease your dog’s fearful confusion and help them calmly get through the next thunderstorm that strikes near your home. Let’s check out all those methods down below.

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The 8 Tips on How to Calm a Dog During a Storm

1. Stay Calm

The first and most important step is to act like nothing’s wrong and to radiate calmness. Your dog can read and interpret your body language, so they’ll know if you’re scared too. By staying calm throughout this otherwise terrifying celestial drum and light show, you can show your dog there’s nothing to be afraid of. Of course, this method doesn’t always work by itself, which is why we have a bunch of other techniques you can use while staying calm.

2. Avoid Reinforcing the Fear

You’d think that you want to comfort your dog when there’s a thunderstorm, but oftentimes, that can reinforce their fearful behavior and make them more likely to be afraid in the future. For example, they know that you give them pets or a treat every time there’s a storm. To bypass this, we recommend using positive, optimistic energy to help get them excited and out of that frame of mind altogether.

dalmatian dog hug by owner
Image Credit: Piqsels

3. Provide a Safe Space

Some dogs aren’t always willing to take your calmness at face value and just need a dark, private space to retreat to where they can feel safe. For many dogs, that’s their crate, but a soft bed in the corner of a room can work just as well. In extreme cases where a dog may feel compelled to bolt out the door, you may need to confine them to a crate or safe room for the time being.

4. Drown It Out With White Noise

This tactic has mixed effectiveness, but it’s worth trying. If you can drown out the noise of the storm with white noise or other ambient noises, it can help mitigate how fearful your dog gets. If lightning contributes to their anxiety, you can use blackout curtains on top of white noise to enhance the effect. White noise works best, but nearly any soothing noises can also do the trick, including classical music or ambient forest noises.

a sad dog hugging a man
Image Credit: Zen Chung, Pexels

5. Try an Anxiety Jacket

Though they have little concrete data backing them up, tons of anecdotal evidence supports the idea that weighted anxiety jackets can help soothe dogs who are scared of storms.

6. Use Distractions

Pull out all the stops to keep your dog fully engaged with you during the thunderstorm, which will give them less time to ponder the booming thunder. Try chews or licking toys, which give them a safe, positive outlet to let out their anxieties. A stuffed Kong with dog-safe peanut butter can help pass the time until the storm subsides, and you may find they’ve already tired themselves out with that mental stimulation before it’s even over.

French bulldog puppy is lying on a sofa and listening how child plays the kids piano
Image Credit: Rybakova Aliona, Shutterstock

7. Consider Desensitization Training

Desensitization training involves repeatedly exposing your dog to undesirable stimuli in increasing increments. You can do this without a storm by simply playing thunder noises off the internet. Play the noise and reward calm behavior. If your dog shows signs of fear, remain calm and wait for them to become calm again. Use high-value treats and praise when they stop whining or showing other fearful behavior.

For very scared pups, you may want to start this at a very low volume to gauge their initial reaction. Training doesn’t work very well when they simply run away at the sound of thunder. Another thing you can try is to play thunder noises during playtime or other normal times of day, which can help “inoculate” them against the sound, so to speak.

8. Consult a Vet

Persistently fearful behavior in the face of thunder can sometimes be too much to deal with on your own, and you may need to pay your vet a visit. Extreme agitation during storms can sometimes be remedied with medication, but your vet will be able to give you more personalized advice on what would be most effective in calming your dog. It’s worth looking into, but vet visits are definitely not cheap compared to the other methods above.

woman talking to vet
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

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It’s only normal that you’d want to do everything in your power to help your pets, so we’ve provided some effective tips on how to help calm a dog during a storm above. Sometimes, maintaining a calm presence is enough, but other times, you may have to resort to an anxiety jacket or even a trip to the vet.

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Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

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