How to calm a dog down during a thunderstorm | Dog thunderstorm anxiety tips

Dog thunderstorm anxiety – 9 simple tips

If you know your dog has an issue with storms, noises or a generally fearful character then preparation many months before is going to help your dog far better than firefighting on the night.

  1. Create a calm atmosphere with calming music
  2. Be there for them, hold them, show them there’s nothing to worry about
  3. Act normally, use a calm voice to comfort your dog
  4. Use a body-wrap snug-fitting and ideally anti-static
  5. Desensitise your dog to thunderstorm sounds throughout the year
  6. Use a natural herbal calming spray for dogs
  7. Rub down with an anti-static sheet (read below to find out why)
  8. Give your dog a tasty, long-lasting treat to distract them
  9. Make a cosy hideaway of your dog’s choice

* Many dogs will find that laying away from fabric helps far better. Nicholas Dodman of Tufts University in the USA notes that may dogs will seek the comfort of a bathroom, shower, or bath to rest away from the effects of static((

Did you know that bananas contain magnesium which can help to keep your dog calm, learn more in our guide can dogs eat bananas?

How to calm a dog from thunder
Calm a dog down during a thunderstorm – Dogs love a cosy den to feel safe and secure

5 signs of dog thunderstorm anxiety

The signs your anxious dog will show you that a storm is on the way will include one or more of the following:

  • Panting or hiding
  • Pacing (Get our dog recall training guide)
  • Wide-eyed
  • Ears back
  • Yawing

Dogs that eat a natural diet, free from unnecessary sugars and fillers tend to be calmer and more balanced mentally. This may help your dog take thunderstorms in their stride.

Why do dogs get anxious around thunderstorms

How to calm a dog from thunder

Dogs can be far more sensitive to thunderstorms than any other noises and external stimuli for these reasons;

  • The air pressure changes
  • The sky turns dark
  • There are low rumbles in the distance.
  • Static electricity

The static effect of thunderstorms

Dog fur collects static, especially larger dogs and those with double coats. Their nose then may come in contact with metal and they get a shock. Here you have an immediate negative consequence of thunderstorms.

Your dog will know a thunderstorm is on its way long before you unless you’ve read the weather forecast that is!

Build a relationship of trust between you and your dog, when your dog knows for sure you’re their ultimate safety net, then they are going to believe you more readily when faced with their nemesis, whatever that may be, in this instance we are talking thunderstorms.

Trust is not built from training your dog to perform sit, stay, and heel. Trust is built on how you respond to all their communication signals throughout their day with you.

Dogs talk by what they do. Dogs do as they feel. Be mindful of the behaviour, you, and the environment to help your dog through.

Dogs mirror our emotions and actions. Be the stable adult and guide them to feeling safe and secure in your company, in the knowledge that you are there to keep them safe.

Dogs that eat a natural diet, free from unnecessary sugars and fillers tend to be calmer and more balanced mentally. This may help your dog take thunderstorms in their stride.

The static effect of thunderstorms

Dog fur collects static, especially larger dogs and those with double coats. Their nose then may come in contact with metal and they get a shock. Here you have an immediate negative consequence of thunderstorms.

— Update: 14-02-2023 — found an additional article Helping Dogs with Severe Phobias During Storms and Fireworks from the website for the keyword how to calm a dog from thunder.

The ideal way to treat fireworks and thunderstorm phobias is to train your dog using behavior modification techniques such as systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning. This should be started at a time of year when fireworks or thunderstorms are not likely to occur, so that you have control over the situation and time to work on your retraining program. However, if this has not been possible, you need to know how to help your pet during a thunderstorm or fireworks celebration. This handout aims to provide you with some helpful information for immediate treatment of fireworks and thunderstorm phobias. For information on long-term treatment for these phobias, see our other handouts on fears and phobias, counter-conditioning and systematic desensitization, and treatment of fireworks and thunderstorm phobias.

Will drugs help relieve my dog’s fear? How to calm a dog from thunder

Although drugs may be useful in some cases, they should only be given under veterinary supervision. To be effective, they must be absorbed and active in the body BEFORE any noise starts or panic sets in. This is usually at least an hour prior to the event. Sedatives may help the pet sleep through the event or be less aware of the stimuli but do not reduce anxiety. Anti-anxiety drugs may reduce anxiety and panic but may not calm the dog sufficiently.

Certain antidepressants may be useful when given on an ongoing basis to try to prevent or reduce the effect of the stimulus when and if it occurs. With antidepressant treatment, short acting drugs may be added on the day of the fireworks (or storm) if needed. Other possibilities for treatment in conjunction with other drugs include dog appeasing pheromones (Adaptil®) and natural products such as melatonin.

What about scolding or punishing my dog?

Do not punish your dog, it only confirms to him that there is something to fear and will make him worse. In addition, if you are upset or anxious about your pet’s behavior, this will also make your dog more anxious.

Should I try to reassure my dog?

Do not fuss, pet or try to reassure your dog when he is scared, since he may regard this as a reward for the behavior he is engaging in at that time. By rewarding the behavior, it may become increasingly intense with each future exposure! Although it may be difficult, try to ignore any fearful behavior that occurs.

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What should I do that would be helpful? 

Practice training your dog to settle and focus on command, using rewards such as favorite treats and toys. Try to associate this training with a favored location in the house (one where the noise of the fireworks and storm might be less obvious – see below), and use some training cues (e.g. a CD or a favorite blanket) each time you do the training (so that the command, location and cues help to immediately calm the dog). You should use a head halter to help control, distract and calm the dog during training. Then at the time of the storm, use your commands, location, cues and head halter to try to calm the dog, while avoiding punishment or reassurance of the fearful response.

Make sure that the environment is safe and secure at all times. Even the most placid dog can behave unpredictably when frightened by noise and, should he bolt and escape, he could be injured or lost.

Can I do anything to reduce the impact of the noise and flashes from the fireworks or storms?

At the approach of thunderstorm season, try to ensure that your dog has access to a well-curtained or blacked-out room when the storm begins. Blacking out the room removes the additional problems of flashing lights, flares etc.

Provide plenty of familiar toys and games that might help to distract the pet.

Try to arrange company for your dog rather than leaving him alone in the room.

Close all the windows and doors so the sound is muffled as much as possible. Try taking your pet to a room or area of the house where the stimuli will be at their mildest and the dog can be most easily distracted. Sometimes placing nested cardboard boxes or a blanket over the cage can greatly mute the sound. Be certain however that there is enough air circulation so that the pet does not overheat.

Provide background noise from the radio or television. Rap or similar music with a lot of constant drum beats does help. The volume does not have to be loud as long as the music has a strong beat that acts as a distraction and prevents him from concentrating on the noises outside. Other background noises such as a fan running or even “white” noise devices can help to block outdoor noises.

Some products and exercises might be useful to further secure or calm the dog. Anxiety wraps, a cape or mat that reduces static, a head halter for control or TTouch therapy may help to calm the dog further. For many dogs, pheromone diffusers and/or collars can be useful.

Ignore the noises yourself and try to involve your pet in some form of active game.

My friend down the street has a dog that is not scared of loud noises and gets along well with mine. She has offered to lend me her dog for support. Shall I accept?

This may be an excellent strategy. Keeping the two together during the evenings may help. If you or your friend plays with the non-fearful dog when your own becomes scared, it may help to encourage him to join in and thus reduce his fear.

Is there anything else that I can do that is worthwhile?

Do not just ignore the problem because it only happens intermittently or for a few days each year.

Institute a desensitization program once the season is over so that you ensure your dog loses fear of the situation. Additional handouts are available that can help explain exactly how to go about this.

— Update: 14-02-2023 — found an additional article Weather Worries: How to Calm a Dog During a Storm from the website for the keyword how to calm a dog from thunder.

When storm clouds are brewing on the horizon, most people make sure their car windows are rolled up and their kids haven’t left anything out in the yard. You, however, have a sinking feeling because you know your precious pooch is in for a rough time.

Simply put, some dogs are afraid of storms. Signs of anxiety include clinging to their pet parents, pacing, panting, trembling, or hiding in small spaces. Dogs with a severe fear of storms may even try to dig through the wall or engage in other destructive behaviors.

While you can’t prevent storms, there are ways that you can help your best friend feel more safe and secure when the thunder rumbles. Let’s break down why our furry friends are scared of storms and what you can do to help keep your dog calm during a storm.

Why Are Dogs Scared of Storms?

It’s not completely understood why dogs are so afraid of storms, though there are a few theories. One of the most common ideas why dogs are scared of thunder is because they know that loud noises can mean danger. As such, they have a natural instinct to look for shelter after loud cracks of thunder.

Another reason why the sounds of a storm may petrify your pooch is that dogs have far more sensitive hearing than humans. This sensitivity means that not only is the sound of thunder louder to them, but also that they’ll begin to hear it before you.

Another likely theory for your dog’s nervousness has to do with the static electricity produced by storms. Static electricity running through the dog’s fur may create a strange, uncomfortable feeling, and potentially even lead up to painful shocks. Repeated instances of this can lead your dog to develop storm anxiety. After all, they don’t understand how to avoid the feeling or why this is happening.

Can Dogs Sense Storms?

You may have noticed that your dog gets anxious before the storm arrives. In addition to being able to hear the thunder from farther away, dogs are more sensitive to barometric pressure changes, static electricity, and can smell changes in the environment.

To us, it may seem that dogs can sense storms before they start. However, dogs are simply more sensitive and are already experiencing the storm before we do. In the case of dog storm anxiety, that means your furry friend may start to act nervous before you even know why.

Are Certain Dogs More Likely to Be Afraid of Storms?

While any canine can develop dog storm anxiety, some dogs are more likely to be more sensitive. For whatever reason, there seems to be a genetic predisposition in herding breeds like Australian Shepherds and Border Collies for developing noise phobia.

Herding breeds aren’t the only dogs more prone to storm anxiety. Larger dogs, dogs with long hair, or dogs with a double coat are more likely to be affected by the static electricity and may be more likely to develop an aversion to storms.

Even if your puppy doesn’t show signs of storm anxiety, it doesn’t mean they won’t develop it later. In fact, most dogs who react to thunderstorms develop issues after they are a year old or even older. Always keep a sharp eye out as storms approach to see how your dog is feeling.

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Finally, dogs who are more naturally fearful may have issues with storms. Does your dog already exhibit other fearful behaviors, such as separation anxiety or hesitation around people? It’s more likely that your dog will be afraid of storms as well.

What You Can Do to Calm Your Dog During a Storm

We’ve talked a lot about the challenges your dog faces during a thunderstorm – now it’s time to identify what you can do to make your dog feel calmer during a storm. Thankfully, there are several ways you can help your dog feel less anxious when thunder and lightning roll into your area.

Create a safe space for your dog

Dogs will often try to seek shelter under your bed or in the closet during a thunderstorm. The reason for this is because dogs are den animals and feel safer in a more enclosed environment.

Create a safe space for them that they know they can use any time. If your dog is crate trained, the crate can be a good place for them to ride out the storm. You’ll want to pick out the right type of dog crate for your furry friend, but the right space can be a comforting environment where they can hide.

Another way to comfort your dog is to give them a sound-proof room where they can get away from the loud cracks of thunder and other unsettling noises. Most of us don’t have totally sound-proof rooms in our homes, but you can find a room that’s quieter than the others. For example, basements are often a good choice as they are more insulated against sounds from outside.

If you don’t know the best place to put your dog, let them choose where they feel safest. Then you can set up the space comfortably with their bed, crate, or whatever else will help calm their anxiety.

Counter the storm with soothing sounds

It might not be possible to drown out the sounds of a thunderstorm, but you can muffle it to some extent. Try turning on the radio or playing a white noise machine for your dog. You can also get special dog-calming music that is really nice to listen to. This will both muffle the storm as well as give the dog something relaxing to enjoy.

Give your dog something to do

Bored dogs are more likely to act up, even when there isn’t a thunderstorm. Giving your dog something to do during the storm is a great way to help her get her mind off what is happening outside.

Licking and chewing are ways for dogs to calm themselves. That’s why you’ll find nervous pups chewing on your shoes or licking themselves excessively. Instead, give them a licking pad, a chew toy or some other item that they can gnaw on to distract themselves from the storm. This type of activity will help them remain calm and focus their nervous energy on less destructive practices.

Be there for them

You probably already know that you are your dog’s idol. Dogs have that wonderful way of putting their parents up on pedestals and loving every second they spend with them. That bond can help ease your furry friend when she’s scared of a storm.

The best gift you can give your dog during a scary thunderstorm is to be there by her side. She’s scared and your very presence is comforting to her. It’s also a good idea to talk to your dog in a soothing supportive manner when she’s scared – the sound of your voice can help ease her throughout the process.

Use a dryer sheet

This suggestion might sound a little strange, but there’s some logic behind it. If your dog’s anxiety is partly linked to static electricity in her fur, a dryer sheet can help ease anxiety by taking away the shocking stimulus.

Of course, you may be worried that the chemicals in dryer sheets weren’t made for this purpose. If you’re infrequently giving your dog a gentle, light wipe of the sheet to cut down on the static, expert agree that this should not pose a health issue. Keep the dryer sheet out of reach and be sure your dog does not eat it or chew on it. Choose an unscented brand to cut down on the chemicals as much as possible. However, if your dog is licks or grooms themselves a lot, or you live in an area with frequent storms, the next idea might be more appropriate.

Give your dog a jacket

Another solution is to wrap your dog up in an anti-static jacket or some other form of comforting wrap. These garments help cut down on the amount of static electricity in your dog’s fur as well as make them feel safe and snug, much like a swaddling wrap for a baby.

In fact, a big reason why people dress their dogs is to help with anxiety because many dogs find comfort in being held tightly. A jacket isn’t quite the same as a hug from their favorite human, but jackets, wraps, and sweaters can be a useful tool for relieving tension during a storm.

Try some other remedies if nothing else works

If nothing else seems to be working, you can try to use relaxing scents with your pet. Dogs can smell changes in the environment, so certain scents like a lavender candle and other soothing aromas can help ease anxiety both in humans and pets.

Anti-anxiety medication can also be a last resort if your furry friend is still struggling to deal with storms. Experts recommend trying everything else first, but if your dog is still suffering, medication can help improve their quality of life. Of course, you’ll absolutely want to consult with your veterinarian for their recommendation and to see if there are any other options for your dog.

Helping Your Dog with Storm Anxiety

Nobody wants to see their fur babies suffer during a thunderstorm. Fortunately, a little care and a few new tricks can help your dog more successfully weather loud storms.

Looking for more tips on how to help your dog live a full, happy life? Sign up for the Best Friends Club to receive our exclusive monthly email newsletter for more dog care advice, nutritional info, and special members-only discounts on Bil-Jac Dog Food, Treats, and other products.

— Update: 14-02-2023 — found an additional article 10 Ways to Calm Your Dog When the Thunder Rumbles from the website for the keyword how to calm a dog from thunder.

How to calm a dog from thunder

Can your dog predict thunderstorms more accurately than the Weather Channel? Do they pace, pant or whine hours before the first dark cloud rolls in? Have they ever chewed or scratched your doors or windows in an effort to get inside the house (or vice versa) during a storm? Do they tremble and hide at the first drop of rain? If so, they may be showing the signs of storm anxiety.


For some dogs, the sound of thunder — as well as fireworks or gunshots — may be what’s upsetting. For others, it’s the whole package: the thunder, the lightning, the change in barometric pressure, the static electricity, even the scent of rain. And still other dogs have generalized, daily anxiety that’s made worse by storms.

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It’s important to work with your veterinarian to determine whether your dog is suffering from noise anxiety, storm anxiety, separation anxiety or a combination of stresses, so you can find the right treatment to help your pet. If your dog’s anxiety is so extreme that they are hurting themselves or destroying property, your veterinarian may recommend medications to help.

RELATED POST: Destructive Behavior in Pets: It’s Not Spite


Because there can be many facets to storm anxiety, therapy usually involves a combination of environmental changes and behavior therapy to medications and other treatments. Here are 10 ways to help calm your fearful dog.

Bring your dog indoors during a storm. It may sound obvious, but dogs with storm anxieties really do need a “shelter in the storm.”

Create a safe place. Find an interior closet or room without windows and fill it with your dog’s favorite bed, toys and treats. Help your dog become accustomed to the area weeks before the first storm hits, so it’s a familiar and comforting experience.

Consider crating your dog. If they already seek out their crate as a place of comfort, make it available during the storm — but always leave the door open. (Dogs who are locked inside a crate or room can break teeth and claws trying to escape.) Place a blanket or a sound-deadening cover over the crate to add another buffer to help your dog.

Pull the shades. The flash of lightning can be unsettling for some dogs, so closing the shades and drapes can help shut out distractions and perhaps muffle the noise.

Don shirts, wraps or capes. The ThunderShirt is designed to create a calming effect by applying gentle pressure to the dog’s torso. The Storm Defender Cape is marketed to reduce static electricity, but even wiping your dog with an anti-static laundry sheet may help. Make sure the laundry sheet is unscented, however, and be sure to dispose of the sheet properly, so your dog doesn’t eat it.

Mutt Muffs ear covers help reduce sound and Doggles with dark lenses may help block out lightning strikes.

Play soothing music. Consider playing “Through a Dog’s Ear” (music designed to calm dogs), turning on the radio or TV, or just using a white noise machine to help cancel out the sound of the storm.

Use pheromones. For some dogs, products such as the Adaptil diffuser, spray or collar can help them feel a little calmer.

Try desensitization and counterconditioning. To help desensitize your dog to storm sounds, on days without storms, play a recording of thunder at a volume so low that it’s not upsetting to them. Then offer your dog treats or a stuffed Kong to counter-condition, or help them associate a positive with the perceived negative of the recorded sounds. Over several days to weeks, in 10-minute sessions, gradually increase the volume of the recording, always pairing it with the treats or a toy. This may help some dogs learn to not be afraid of the noise. However, the fear may be rooted in other aspects of the storm (changes in barometric pressure, static electricity, etc.) so your dog may need additional therapies.

Work with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. For some dogs with intense fears, it may take patience, dedication and the guidance of a behavior specialist to help your dog learn how to weather the storm.

RELATED POST: Pop, Pop, KaBOOM! Managing Your Pet’s Fireworks Fear

— Update: 14-02-2023 — found an additional article 8 tips to calm your dog during a storm from the website for the keyword how to calm a dog from thunder.

If you have a dog with storm phobia, a thunderstorm in the forecast is your worst nightmare. Your dog pants, paces, whines, and might even become destructive during the storm. You worry about the psychological damage and physical harm they can cause themselves during this highly-stressful event. So, how do you handle dog fear and anxiety related to storms?

Here are eight tips to calm your dog during a storm: 

Be Home With Your Dog

For a dog who already fears thunderstorms, being alone will only worsen the anxiety. If bad weather is in the forecast, try to be home or have someone stay with your dog during the storm.

Create Calmness

Give your dog the comfort and attention she needs to calm her anxiety. An anxious dog is unable to learn due to being overly stimulated and emotional, which means comforting is not rewarding the fear. Try a calming massage to help your dog relax during the storm.

Provide Distractions

If a dog is punished or ignored during a frightening event, it’s likely to worsen the anxiety. Instead, offer a positive stimulus, such as gentle petting, to distract and calm your dog. If your dog will still engage, try a game of indoor fetch, tug, or offer a high-value chew.

Offer a Safe Place

Place your dog’s crate and/or bed in the most sound-proof room of your home. A crate is a natural, psychological defense for dogs and can have an incredible influence on their comfort level. It’s also helpful to close the blinds to shelter your dog from the visual stimulation of a storm.

Compete With Noise

When a completely sound-proof room doesn’t exist, compete with the noise by utilizing a radio or white noise machine. Dog-calming music can also be helpful for the highly nervous dog to muffle the sound of the storm.

Calming Remedies

For mild to moderate cases of storm anxiety, natural therapies can be highly effective. A thunder jacket replicates swaddling and may sooth your dog into a calmer state. Bach flower extracts (as found in Bach’s Rescue Remedy), diffusing lavender oil, and dog pheromones can promote relaxation.

Practice Desensitization

Try to desensitize your dog to the sound of storms by utilizing a thunderstorm sound CD. Start by playing the CD at a very low volume while offering your dog plenty of high-value treats and positive interaction. By slowly increasing the volume over several weeks, desensitization will lessen or completely eliminate anxiety during storms.

Visit Your Veterinarian

For the highly-anxious dog who doesn’t respond to the above methods, a visit to the veterinarian to discuss medication may be the solution. However, medication should be a last resort when desensitization efforts fail.

While storms can cause dogs to wreak havoc on your home and themselves, there are several pet relaxation techniques you can use to lessen their anxiety and increase their comfort level. If you have a dog who suffered with storm phobia, what did you do to make her more comfortable?

Kelsie McKenzie is the owner and fur-covered girl behind the scenes of It's Dog or Nothing, a resource for ‘all things Pyrenees.’ She currently lives near Seattle with her Air Force husband and two Great Pyrenees, Mauja and Atka. Kelsie is also a content creator, social media manager, and an avid animal lover.


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