Why Do Dogs Bark at Thunder?
For many dogs, stormy weather is a terrifying experience. Barking at thunder is an extremely common trait for dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds. Like any loud noise your dog cannot understand, thunder can cause extreme anxiety in dogs and encourage anxious behaviors like barking excessively.
Let’s look at a few of the most common reasons why dogs bark at thunder so you can understand your pup’s behavior better. Understanding why your dog barks can help you create a plan of action to fix the problem and help make them more comfortable during thunderstorms.
Fear or Anxiety
If your dog tends to bark excessively during thunderstorms, the most obvious explanation is that your dog is anxious. It’s easy for pets to become fearful during the loud, booming thunder and bright flashes of lightning during a storm.
When dogs are feeling anxious, threatened, or even confused, they’ll try to scare away the thing that’s threatening them by barking at it. Of course, this tactic won’t work for something like thunder—but your dog will certainly try.
Air Pressure Changes
During thunderstorms, the air pressure outside will change drastically. Though you cannot pick up on these changes, your dog can, and they may feel uneasy due to these pressure changes. Plus, some dogs can hear low-frequency sounds caused by approaching thunderstorms, making them feel threatened and causing them to bark.
Reacting to Owners
If you notice your dog always barks during loud thunderstorms, pay close attention to your own behavior in these situations. Is there any chance you’re expressing feelings of anxiety, uneasiness, or even fear? Your dog can sense this!
Dogs are very sensitive to the moods and emotions of the people around them, especially those they’ve most bonded with. If you’re anxious during a thunderstorm or expressing your anxiety by pacing—you could encourage your dog to scare away whatever’s threatening you by barking.
Ways to Stop Your Dog from Barking at Thunder
Though there are many understandable reasons for your dog to bark at thunder, excessive barking can be stressful to everyone in your household and your neighbors. Plus, you don’t want your dog to feel anxious and upset—which nonstop barking is often an indicator of.
Here are some helpful ways to ease your dog’s anxiety during thunderstorms and reduce their barking over time.
Provide Plenty of Distractions During Storms
Whenever your dog feels stressed or threatened, one of the best plans of action is to distract them with their favorite treats and toys.
Set your dog up in the room of your home where the thunder will be the least audible and visible, and make sure their most comfortable bed is present. Give them plenty of treats to reward calm behavior and distract them from thunder with a lot of playtime with their favorite toys.
Use a Bark Collar
Many dog owners have successfully reduced their dog’s excessive barking with no-shock bark collars. With gentle vibration technology, these collars are a completely pain-free and safe way to discourage excessive barking.
When the collar senses a long string of barks, it will emit a small warning beep to encourage your dog to quiet down. If your dog continues to bark, the collar will vibrate, creating a sensation that your dog doesn’t like—effectively discouraging the behavior.
Don’t Encourage or Punish the Behavior
When dogs are barking excessively, many owners make the mistake of severely punishing the behavior through physical reprimands, making the dog more fearful and more likely to bark to protect itself.
Plus, some owners will yell at their dogs to get them to stop barking. Unfortunately, many dogs see this as participation in the barking, so they will keep doing it.
When your dog simply won’t stop barking, it’s easy to get frustrated and react with reprimands or yelling. However, these reactions generally make the problem worse and encourage other fearful or anxious behaviors in your dog.
Make sure to focus on rewarding your dog when they perform good behaviors rather than punishing bad ones and be patient as your dog slowly overcomes their fear and learns better habits.