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How to Calm Your Dog During Thunderstorms

May 13, 2024


Thunderstorms can be a stressful time for our dogs, who can often exhibit fear and anxiety in response to the loud noises and atmospheric changes associated with thunder.


This is known as astraphobia; the fear of thunder and it can have quite a severe effect on our dogs.


After the weekends amazing Aurora Borealis event that couldn’t be seen throughout the UK, we had a sunny couple of days and then a thunderstorm today.  All of our dogs act differently to Thunder, and I wanted to take a look at why this fear occurs and suggest some effective you can put in place to help your dog manage this phobia.


What is Astraphobia in Dogs?


Astraphobia is the intense fear of thunder and lightning. For dogs, this fear can manifest in various behaviours, from mild discomfort, reactivity to severe panic attacks.


This phobia can come from a combination of the loud noise of thunder, the static electricity buildup, and the barometric pressure changes that accompany storms, something that even if we do notice ourselves, we have no idea what it is or how to identify it.


Recognising Signs of Distress


It's essential that we recognise the signs of distress in dogs during thunderstorms as they start to manifest.


Common signs to look out for are.


Pacing or Trembling


Dogs can become restless and might shake uncontrollably when they hear thunder or even just feel thunder coming on.




They may hide under beds, in dark corners, or anywhere they feel protected.


Whining or Barking


Vocalisation is a common response to fear and anxiety caused by thunder, just like our Bhruic in the attached video.


Destructive Behaviour


In extreme cases, dogs might chew on furniture, dig at doors, or attempt to escape.



Strategies for Management and Comfort


Create a Safe Space


Provide a secure area where your dog can go during storms. This could be a quiet room away from windows, put in their favourite toys and bedding, perhaps an item of clothing with your scent on it (that you wouldn’t mind if it got ruined).


Use of Calming Aids


Products like anxiety wraps or thunder shirts can provide comfort and reduce fear in some dogs. These items of clothing apply gentle, constant pressure, akin to swaddling an infant or a weight blanket to help an adult with anxiety.

A study by King et al. in 2014 found that the use of pressure wraps can reduce heart rate and anxiety in noise-sensitive dogs.


Desensitisation and Counter-conditioning


Gradually exposing your dog to recorded thunder sounds at a low volume while providing treats and positive reinforcement can help them learn to associate the noise with positive experiences. Over time, this can reduce their fear response to actual thunderstorms. This exercise is also effective with other noises, like fireworks.


Consult with your vet


In severe cases, a consultation with your vet might be the best course of action. They can recommend anti-anxiety medications or refer you to a behaviourist for a more tailored treatment plan.


Environmental Modifications


During thunderstorms, playing soft music or white noise can help mask the sound of thunder.





Managing astraphobia in dogs requires patience and understanding.


By recognising the signs of distress and putting in place effective measures, you can help make thunderstorms a less stressful experience for your dog.


Remember, every dog is different and what works for one may not work for another.

Continuous care, focus and adjustment of your training is key.