Dogs have an amazing sense of hearing. Many dogs are bothered by loud noises, such as the sounds of a vacuum cleaner, firecrackers exploding or for many dogs it’s thunder that has them diving under the bed or pacing the floor. Because of their acute hearing, these sounds seem louder to dogs than to us.
So what can you do if your dog is afraid of thunder?
The first thing to do is to create a safe space for your dog, somewhere to which he can retreat when he hears thunder and becomes fearful. If your dog is crate trained, you are already one step ahead, as most dogs who are crate trained feel safest there.
Try covering his crate with a blanket. This will absorb some of the sound and also block out flashes of light from lightning. But don’t shut the door or your dog may feel trapped, adding to his anxiety.
If your dog is not crate trained, make a safe space for him in a bathroom or in a corner. Put his bed there and some favorite toys, along with his water bowl. It’s helpful to lower blinds or draw curtains so he can’t see outside.
Distract your dog by playing calming music or turning on the television. Using a snug fitting cloth “shirt” such as the Thundershirt brand, helps many dogs feel less anxious.
Consider preparing for future thunderstorms by desensitizing your dog to the sound of thunder. You can find these storm sounds online and play them in the background as you play with him or feed him.
Gradually, over several weeks, increase the volume of these sounds at playtime, so he will come to associate pleasant times with the sound of thunder.