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Thunderstorm Phobias in Dogs



It is important to avoid crate confinement, if you believe there is a risk of the dog injuring itself. Otherwise, there are forms of behavior modification or medication (e.g., antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs) that you can request from your veterinarian.


Behavior Modification:


  • Neither punish nor attempt to comfort the dog during storms.
  • Desensitization and counter-conditioning are often used in combination.
  • Desensitization involves exposure to a recorded stimulus at a volume that does not elicit fear. The volume is gradually increased only if the dog remains relaxed.
  • Counter-conditioning involves teaching a response (sit, relax) that is incompatible with the fear response. Food rewards are often used to facilitate learning.
  • Audio recordings of storms are commercially available. Other than storm sounds, it is difficult to reproduce the natural stimuli that occur during thunderstorms.


Please consult an expert before implementing these forms of behavior modification,as improper use of these exercises can worsen the condition.


Living and Management


If your dog is given medication, complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profiles should be monitored by your veterinarian periodically. Prognosis depends on severity, duration, and the dog's ability to avoid injuries. However, the condition may worsen if left untreated.



Image: Annette Shaff / Shutterstock


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