Videos of thunder and medications are two examples

Dr. Mitsie Vargas

With thunder season full in swing, now is a great time to talk about how we can prepare our dogs to accept the noise of thunder, rather than pee themselves or tear up the house in fear!

But first, it might help to clear out a harmful myth given to dog owners: “Don’t pet your dog if she runs to you because she’s afraid of thunder.” This advice is fundamentally wrong because fear itself is aversive. So much so that no amount of petting or sweet talk is going to make your dog more likely to shiver when she hears thunder rolling.

Here’s an example that might help to further illustrate this point. What if someone tried to rob your house in the middle of the night, and after the intruder left, a loved one sat down with you, brought you tea, then gave you a hug? Would their sympathy make you more likely to be afraid if it happened again in the future? Can you imagine someone saying: “Well, I know you’re afraid, but I’m going to ignore you because any sympathy that I give might make you more likely to be frightened if it ever happens again.”

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