It’s a Dog’s World… Why Are Dogs Afraid of Thunder?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of us who call Florida home that we live in the lightning capital of the United States, with storms occurring approximately 100 days out of the year. Although our entire state rates as a high risk area, the most dangerous area runs from St. Augustine to Lake Okeechobee and from east to west coasts. That puts our Tampa Bay area right in the middle of the danger zone. Yikes!
It’s a given that dogs’ senses are much sharper than ours. They hear, smell and sense things with a clarity that we can hardly imagine. Because they hear higher and lower frequencies than we do, the sound of thunder is much more intense. And, because their hearing is so acute, so is the volume. Additionally, atmospheric changes and gusting winds that accompany storms bring on sudden changes in airborne scents.
With all that, plus lightning, thunder and rain, a storm is nothing less than a full assault on the senses.
Now that you understand why dogs can be terrified by storms, here are a few things you can do if your pet is in distress:
* Hold the dog: Mother dogs control and reassure their pups by holding them behind their ears or on the bridges of their noses. You can give your dog the same feeling of assurance with a special collar such as the Gentle Leader or the Halti. Unlike traditional collars they are like a harness that slips over the nose and behind the ears – perfect for dogs who are trembling because of thunder.
* Create a safe place with a sleeping bag: Dogs naturally gravitate to small, enclosed places. They like to create dens. The urge to hide is especially strong when they are frightened.
* Try the Tellington Touch: This is a technique – somewhere between acupuncture and massage – that has been shown to help relax dogs. ( Tellington TTouch Training™ – www.ttouch.com)
- Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero, by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory
- Think Dog!: An Owner’s Guide to Canine Psychology, by John Fisher