“Phonophobia” also called “sonophobia,” is defined as a fear of loud sounds. While rare in humans, this phobia is especially common for dogs and could be the reason that your pup seems especially anxious during thunderstorms and fireworks.
Most dogs simply do not understand what loud noises are and any loud sound is perceived as a threat. While you may not be able to change what they know, you can take steps to help calm and comfort your dog to help them “weather the storm,” all year round.
See below for tips on keeping your pooch safe and happy during a thunderstorm or holidays that are marked by the snap, crackle, and pop of fireworks.
While your instincts may tell you that your dog is scared and it’s a good idea to comfort them, going overboard with the coddling and cooing may actually make your dog even more afraid. During the storm, you should speak to your dog as normally as possible and try not to hold them or keep them from being able to move freely. Humans love to be held and comforted in these instances, but animals respond to frightening situations with fight or flight. Let your dog move about freely and exhibit normal behavior by setting an example for how to react to the storm or fireworks.
Apply a Calming Lotion
Dogs, like humans, can be calmed down with homeopathic remedies. Recently, cannabidiol, a compound in cannabis, has been getting a lot of attention for its ability to reduce psychological symptoms of anxiety and depression. CBD tinctures for pets are 100% THC free, meaning that they carry no side effects, and have the ability to ease your dog’s discomfort without any risk of overdosing or high. The cannabinoids or CBD are absorbed directly into your dog’s skin and start working right away to combat anxiety and fear. We recommend using them daily as they carry a whole host of other benefits, both physical and mental.
Build a Safe Space
During a thunderstorm, wild animals will generally take shelter. Even though your dog is domesticated, a scared pup is likely to refer back to their natural instincts and run for cover. Provide a safe space for your dog to quickly duck into. This could include building an indoor fort using their crate or blankets, positioning their dog bed in an open closet or secure space and making sure to close any blinds and windows.
Clothe Them in a Calming Vest
The Thundershirt is one option for calming your dog during a thunderstorm. It’s a shirt designed specifically for pets that applies gentle but constant pressure while it’s being worn. According to the Thundershirt website, gentle pressure has been shown to relieve anxiety in pets and is verified safe by veterinarians. During the holidays, put your dog in his or her calming vest well before the noise starts and they’ll be nice and relaxed by the time you start celebrating or the storm rolls in.
Try Music or Nature Sounds
Lots of pet owners leave the radio or television on while they’re out of the house so that their dogs feel less alone. During a storm or fireworks, you should minimize noise that contributes to the chaos (not the time for the most recent installment of The Fast and the Furious). Instead, try playing some relaxing music or nature sounds while snuggling with your pup. We sense there might be a human benefit to this as well.
You can also desensitize your dog to the sounds of a storm by playing a thunderstorm recording. Start at a low volume and short intervals and gradually increase to let them get used to it over time.