7 Ways to Calm a Dog During Thunderstorms

My dogs are both terrified of thunderstorms. These are some of the tricks that vets and trainers have recommended to help our poor babes when stormy weather rolls in.

Our lab mix, Jenna, trembles in the corner when it thunders, while our 60-pound dog, Bandit, tries to leap into my lap. These are some of the ways to calm a dog during thunderstorms that we’ve tried.

Every dog is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Jenna is terrified of the Thundershirt, for example, but many people I know swear by it. Chances are, not all of these calming techniques will help your dog during a thunderstorm. You’re basically throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

Ways to Calm a Dog During Thunderstorms

Lavender oil on the collar can be a great way to soothe a dog during a thunderstorm.

1. Lavender Oil

You don’t want your dog to ingest lavender oil, so put a few drops on her collar when a storm is freaking her out. The soothing scent can help calm some dogs’ nerves, and the smell is a distraction from what’s going on in the sky.

2. Massage

Just like humans, dogs find massage soothing. The video above shows a calming massage that you can use on your dog during a thunderstorm. You can also try an ear massage, which Jenna responds to really well. Basically, you gently run your hand up the dog’s ear, from where the ear meets the head to the tip of the ear. When you reach the tip, gently massage for a second, then repeat. Like in the video, it seems to work best if I also talk to her in a soothing voice while massaging.

A hand on your dog's back can be so soothing during a thunderstorm.

3. A Hand on the Back

Sometimes, your dog just needs to know that you are there and in control of the situation. This trick works well on our dog, Bandit, who is definitely boss dog in our house. During a storm, a hand on his back helps him feel like he can step back from being the pack leader, which helps him feel secure and safe. Talking in a soothing voice helps here, too.

Training exercises can help your dog refocus during a thunderstorm.

4. Training Exercises

You may feel like it’s mean to start bossing your scared dog around, but practicing her sit/stay/shake is a great way to distract your dog from the storm and remind her that you’ve got this under control. This one works well on both of my dogs.

Many dogs are soothed by a Thundershirt during a storm.

5. Thundershirt

These wrap shirts help soothe a lot of dogs during thunderstorms, and they’re available at any pet store. Many friends with dogs have recommended the Thundershirt to me. It made Jenna more anxious, but she is clearly in the minority in this situation.

6. White Noise

If your dog can’t hear the storm, your dog won’t be so scared. Dogs can feel the shift in pressure from a storm, even when they can’t hear it, so this technique seems to work best in conjunction with other calming techniques, like massage or lavender oil. Bring your dog to her favorite room, turn down the lights, and turn up the white noise. If you don’t have a white noise machine, you can find free white noise tracks on YouTube, like the one above.

Rescue Remedy drops can soothe a dog during a thunderstorm.

7. Rescue Remedy for Pets

Rescue Remedy is a blend of plant extracts. They make homeopathic drops and gummies for humans, and they have drops for pets, as well. The site recommends putting the drops into water, but I’ve also had good luck putting them onto a treat or into a glob of peanut butter, if my dogs aren’t too scared from the storm to take a treat.

As I mentioned above, different natural remedies will work for different dogs, so don’t be discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work out. Sometimes, especially for high anxiety dogs, you’ll have the best results combining a few of these ways to calm a dog during a thunderstorm.

Related at Care2:

My dogs are both terrified of thunderstorms. These are some ways to calm a dog during thunderstorms that vets and trainers have recommended.

Thundershirt image via Maja Dumat. All other images via Thinkstock.

130 comments

Julie W.
Julie W.7 months ago

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Chad A
Chad Andersonabout a year ago

Thank you!

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Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Melania P
Melania Padilla1 years ago

Nice tips! Sharing as well, thank you.

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bob P
bob P1 years ago

White noise will have to try.

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Jim V
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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heather g
heather g1 years ago

My first instinct would be to calm the dog down but one needs to bear in mind that you are not always with them when there's a thunderstorm or crackers being fired nearby. As long as they know that they're safe.

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Mahalia W
Mahalia W1 years ago

Thank you!

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Fred L
Fred L1 years ago

Totally agree with Rosslyn O. "Comforting" your pet during a thunderstorm, fireworks, etc. is just sending a message that there is a reason to be comforted. I don't react to these events, and my dog and my cat take their cues from me. Creating emotionally needy pets isn't doing them any favors.

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