Experts aren't exactly sure why dogs experience this, but suspect that it is a combination of thunder, lightning, wind, pressure changes, static electricity and low frequency sounds which precede a storm. Some believe that dogs receive painful shocks from static right before storms begin.
There is really no easy fix, but there are some things that you can do to help relieve your dog's panic.
1. Provide a safe place for them to hide like a bathroom or closet where they are free to come and go.
2. Teach your dog to lie calmly near you when the weather is good. When storms begin, use the same command so the dog knows what behavior is expected.
3. You can also try distracting your dog by playing with him, getting out a favorite toy or offering treats. Basically, you are trying to help him forget about what is going on and replace it with something he enjoys.
4. You could try competing with the noise by turning on music or television.
5. Many dog owners sing the praises of thunder shirts. Thunder shirts apply gentle pressure which is thought to calm the nervous system. One theory is that it changes the dog’s breathing pattern. It is important to put the thunder shirt on before anxious behavior begins so your dog doesn’t associate the thunder shirt with storms.
6. Another possible option is DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones). This comes in the form of spray, plug-in diffusers, collars, etc. DAP is a synthetic version of the pheromones released by the mother dog during lactation. These pheromones are thought to give dogs a sense of calm and reassurance.
7. In severe cases, you may need to consult your veterinarian about anxiety medication.
Remember never scold your dog, and it is important to deal with this behavior as soon as you notice it. If left untreated, the behavior can become worse over time. Enjoy this beautiful warm weather and help your dog enjoy it too!