Thunder is one of the most common noise phobias for dogs, and it's not always just the sound of the storm that can cause fear and anxiety. As storms approach, dogs can sense the change in barometric pressure, and a dog can feel the vibration of thunder in the ground. While we can't recreate these environmental changes quite like Mother Nature can, you can prepare using sound recordings of thunderstorms and be prepared with high-value treats and providing a safe space for your dog when a storm rolls in. And when there is a storm on the horizon, you can take advantage of the training opportunity.
Taking time to pair the sound of thunder and lighting with positive experiences can help your puppy learn that storms are no big deal. Proactive exposure practice for thunderstorms is especially important if you live in an area that experiences frequent thunder.
As with all sound desensitization practice, you want to start with the sound of thunder and lighting at a very low volume. As your puppy gets used to the sound, you can slowly raise the volume over time. If at any point you notice stress or fear in your puppy's body language, lower the volume or turn it off completely. Watch for any sudden startles, ears back, wide eyes, tail tucked, or paw lifts.
You can desensitize the sounds in a few different ways:
When a thunderstorm approaches, make sure you're prepared to create positive associations with any cracks and rumbles of thunder. Here are a few tips for helping a puppy through a thunderstorm: