Category Archives: thunderstorm anxiety

Why are Some Dogs Afraid of Thunder and Lightning?

thunderstorm edd princeBy Linda Cole

When I was a kid, we had a Manchester Terrier who would race to the front door and bark during severe thunderstorms. She’d bark and race over to us and then back to the door as if she thought someone was knocking. Distant thunder didn’t bother her, but loud and close thunder did. Our two other dogs would sleep right through a thunderstorm. Why does thunder and lightning scare some dogs and not others?

Lightning is formed when ice and water particles inside a cloud are compressed by warm air currents. Friction from the quickly moving currents causes electrical charges to form within the cloud. Negative charges build up at the bottom of the cloud and positive ones go to the top. When there’s a large buildup of negative charge, a feeler is sent towards the ground where it meets up with a positive streamer reaching up from the ground and causes a lightning strike. The negative charge descends rapidly, heating the air surrounding it to around 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit and creating a shock wave – thunder.

A low pressure is when the atmospheric (barometric) pressure is lower than the surrounding area. Lows produce snow, rain, wind, humidity, thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes. A change in barometric pressure can bother some dogs more than others, especially arthritic pets that can experience more pain and stiffness in their joints during storms. Lightning is a natural source of nitrogen oxides, and dogs that are sensitive to storms may be able to smell these odors from the atmosphere as well as the ozone.

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Why Do Some Dogs Hate Going Outside in the Rain?

By Linda Cole

My dogs can’t wait to get outside when the weather is nice, but a rainy day is a much different story. Even when I stand outside in the rain trying to coax them out, I get a look from them that says, “You crazy human. You do know it’s raining – right?” In the end, I usually win out, thanks to patience and the natural urge that sooner or later causes a dog to begrudgingly step out into the rain to do their business.

Keikei is the only one of my dogs who prances around in the rain like Gene Kelly in the classic movie Dancing in the Rain. The other dogs tiptoe through the grass hoping this will keep their feet from getting wet.

Most dogs will resist going outside in the rain, but some don’t seem to mind if they get wet. As long as it’s not storming or coming down in buckets, you can usually coax your dog outside for a quick duty call. It’s usually a hard rain that puts the brakes on for most dogs. I can’t say I blame them, because I don’t want to stand outside when it’s raining hard any more than they do.

For some dogs, it’s not the rain that bothers them, it’s the scary thunder and lightning. One of my dogs, Shelby, has a thunder phobia. The minute the rumbles start, she’s by my side. Dogs with a storm phobia are more often herding breeds and hounds, but any dog can be afraid of storms and it can be a serious issue for an owner to deal with. Dogs scared of storms can have mild to severe reactions. They might chew on anything they can find, salivate, whine, hide, pace, shake, become destructive or aggressive, or cling to their owner for the duration of the storm.

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Understanding Your Dog’s Fears

By Langley Cornwell

My dog Frosty had a serious fear of loud noises. She was most terrified when it stormed, when there were fireworks or when guns were being shot. She would salivate, pace and hide. Once we were able to understand what she was afraid of, it made it easier to help her when she was faced with the things that scared her.

Fear can be a crippling emotion and when it comes to your dog, fear can drive his actions and lead to bad and even dangerous behavior. Understanding the fears that your dog experiences can help you, as a responsible pet owner, better help your canine companion.

Things that scare your dog may seem silly or inconsequential, but to your pooch they are monumental. What are some common fears that dogs exhibit?

Noises

The noise created by vacuum cleaners, certain appliances and even lawnmowers have been known to scare some dogs. In the house, sudden loud noises like those from a mixer, a blender or some other small appliance can startle and upset any dog.

Often, the reverberation of loud sounds off the walls of an enclosed room can frighten your dog. In the great outdoors, though, dogs can react poorly to the lawnmower. In all cases, a dog is simply unable to make sense of the movement and the noise, and it results in fear.

In the same way, some dogs may be frightened by thunder, lightning or fireworks. It is possible to rehabilitate some dogs from such fears through therapy, positive encouragement and even medications. However, avoiding the things that frighten your dog, if feasible, may be the best way to deal with their fears.

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The Best Way to Soothe an Agitated Dog

By Suzanne Alicie

While most humans are accustomed to loud noises or crowds of people, dogs can sometimes get pretty agitated. During the summer there are plenty of noises and events that can frighten dogs. Fireworks on the 4th of July, family cookouts, neighborhood gatherings and thunderstorms are just a few of the things which can upset your dog. Some dogs are even scared of water; the things that can frighten and agitate your dog are varied and depend on the personality of the dog and his environment.

Each dog reacts differently when scared, nervous or feeling crowded. Some dogs may get vocal with barking or growling when they feel agitated, while others may retreat when they are frightened. Even well mannered dogs have been known to have potty accidents when they get agitated, or to snap at people when they feel crowded and cornered. Responsible pet owners always try to keep their dog from feeling fear, but there are some things that even the most dedicated doggy mom can’t do anything about.

Our dog Bear is terrified of thunder. She hears it long before we do and begins rounding up the family. She pants and does rounds of the house trying to make sure we are all where we need to be. As the thunder gets closer she begins searching for a safe place. For a dog as big as Bear, it’s amazing that she can squeeze into some really small places when there’s a thunderstorm. She will go under the bed, try to get into the bottom shelf on a bookshelf or the tiniest cubby underneath the desk. She shivers and shakes and pants until I sometimes worry about her having a stroke or a heart attack. Her response to thunder or fireworks seems quite similar to a human having a panic attack. She doesn’t focus on any one thing, and will often roll her eyes in fear.

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Do Dogs Get Scared, and What Scares Them?


By Linda Cole

We think of our dogs as being fearless in their protection of us if an intruder were to ever enter our homes. Most dogs will protect their property, but dogs are like us when it comes to things they’re afraid of. Dog behavior can be hard to figure out, but we can understand when dogs get scared, even though we don’t know why some things scare them.

Thunder is a sound a lot of dogs and cats are scared of. I know a big boom certainly gets my attention. A normally happy dog can show different levels of dog aggression when they become nervous because of loud, sudden sounds. Some dogs have issues with separation anxiety or they may be afraid of another dog in the home or even a neighbor’s dog. And sometimes the big bad scary thing is a cat that intimidates the dog.

Dogs get scared by things that are unfamiliar or confusing to them. Wild animals that wander into their yard can make a dog nervous. I’ve always enjoyed sitting outside at night with my dogs in their dog pen. One night about ten years ago, we had an expected visitor who scared all of my dogs so much it gave me goose bumps, and still does to this day. We were sitting outside on a beautiful night with the moon shining down on the freshly fallen snow. The town clock had chimed midnight and all was quiet. The dogs were wandering around the pen when suddenly they all huddled around me. None of them uttered a sound. I didn’t think anything of it until I saw what scared them – a coyote had quietly stolen up on the other side of the pen and was watching us. He was a beautiful animal, but I quickly decided it was time to go inside. I still sit outside at night with my dogs, but I always bring a good flashlight and pay attention if they huddle around me suddenly.

Dogs get scared by all kinds of things we take for granted. Last winter a dog was found wandering around the parking lot of a local restaurant. When the manager couldn’t find her owner, he asked if we’d take her. She’d apparently been lost for quite awhile and was extremely skinny. She’s doing fine weight wise, but this dog is scared of going up and down stairs and going outside at night. When we started turning on the ceiling fan in the living room and kitchen, she’d sit in a corner never taking her eyes off that spinning monster above her. She doesn’t like thunderstorms, sudden movements, loud noises, flashlights or all the little noises cats and animals make outside as they roam around in the dark. A breaking stick can send her tearing back inside with her tail between her legs. We can only guess what she went through as a lost dog. She is making good progress though, one scary thing at a time.

It can be challenging when dogs get scared. Some can become aggressive or develop behavioral problems related to whatever it is that scares them. Most dogs are happy, carefree pets who eagerly wait for us to return home and take them out for a game of catch or a walk. But we all have things that scare us, even though we may not admit it. If something scares a dog, they do remember it. I know the dogs I had at the time of our brief encounter with the coyote remembered the smell that scared them enough to huddle beside me. I don’t know if I was supposed to protect them or if they were trying to protect me.

Dogs get scared of the vacuum cleaner roaring across the living room carpet, snakes hidden in tall grass, a trip to the vet, and getting their toenails clipped. Some dogs get scared riding in a car, being yelled at, and being around unfamiliar dogs or people. Fear is a normal response to something that isn’t understood and there’s a difference between a fearful dog and one who is scared by something that confused him and caused his reaction. However, dog aggression can result from both. For most dogs who get scared, once whatever it was that scared them is gone, they will return to normal.

Most of the time when dogs get scared, their fear will pass, but it’s up to us as responsible pet owners to recognize if it’s nothing to worry about or if it’s something we need to help them understand.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Is it Separation Anxiety, or Something Else?


By Linda Cole

We all know what separation anxiety is. A dog just can’t stand being away from the people he loves. Left alone, the dog might whine, howl or bark all day which isn’t good if you live in an apartment. He may also destroy things in the home or scratch up the doors and windows. He gets all worked up and so do the neighbors. But, there could be something else going on that has nothing to do with a dog missing his owner.

Separation anxiety has become a sort of catch-all for behavioral problems. But it could also be boredom or a disease. No one knows why some dogs seem to miss their owner more than others. Some become anxious even with the owner at home but in a different room. Destructive chewing, howling or constant barking, drooling and doing their business inside are all symptoms of separation anxiety. Some dogs become so worked up they chew on themselves, causing self inflicted injuries. A mild case can be dealt with easily whereas a more severe case may require medication and/or working with an animal behavioral expert to help solve the dog’s anxiety.

A bored pet can be as destructive as one who misses his owner, but the two problems are quite different. Boredom can be solved with exercise before you leave the house and chew toys stuffed with dog treats. But before you can solve the mystery of whether your dog is destroying your couch because he’s bored or because he’s experiencing separation anxiety, you need to determine which problem you are dealing with. Discussing the issue with your vet can help.

There are medical reasons why your dog may be exhibiting what appears to be separation anxiety. Cushing’s disease, seizures, diabetes, renal disease, gastrointestinal problems or cystitis could be the problem. A fear of thunderstorms that increases when you are gone can upset some dogs enough that they howl or chew to help relieve their fear. Cognitive dysfunction, needing to go outside, marking their territory, a pup who is teething and not being completely housebroken can all be symptoms that you should have your dog checked out by a vet or an animal behaviorist, or spend extra time working on housebreaking and basic training.

Separation anxiety can begin at any age and for a variety of reasons. If you’ve moved into a new home, your dog may not feel as comfortable in his new surroundings. Separation anxiety can occur is you adopt a new dog who isn’t accustomed to you, their new environment or a new routine. It might manifest if your work schedule changes and you don’t have as much time to spend exercising and playing with your dog.

Other causes of separation anxiety include: a new baby in the home; new people living in your home; other changes in your living arrangements; a death in the family which can be a human or another pet. Separation anxiety might occur if your dog had an extended stay in a kennel or at the vet, or if you’ve adopted a new puppy or kitten. Your dog needs to know he hasn’t lost your love, so any time there’s a change, it’s important to reassure him he’s still your buddy. Dogs feel most comfortable and secure when their routine is maintained from day to day. Before making changes that are in your control, talk to your vet for recommendations on how to best implement the change so your dog doesn’t feel threatened. Changes you can’t control, like a death, may need to be dealt with by an expert if your dog continues to grieve.

Don’t assume your dog has separation anxiety just because it’s an easy explanation for why your dog is misbehaving. Any of the diseases mentioned above, boredom or lack of proper training could be the culprit. If you’re thinking about using a crate to help keep your dog from destroying the house while you’re gone, discuss your intentions with your vet before doing so. A dog with separation anxiety should never be put in a crate. It will only cause him more stress to be confined in a small area.

The more we learn about dogs, the more we understand how intertwined our lives are. Separation anxiety can be dealt with as long as that’s the problem. It’s always a good idea to have your vet give your dog a checkup just to make sure it’s separation anxiety and not something else.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.