What are you barking at!!!

by Judy Born

We have a Cairn Terrier that is 5 years old. Whenever we have a thunderstorm he barks and runs around the house frantically. He sits and watches the window and waits for the flash of lightening and then barks and barks and barks. Nothing gets him to calm down. He starts panting and gets a glazed look in his eyes. It is really driving us nuts. What can we do? I have tried the over the counter supplements that help him to relax but they don't work that well. I don't want to put him on meds. There are nights that we get no sleep at all. I even bought one of those capes that you tie on them that to discharges static from the lightening (That was a waste of 60.00). It made no effect at all. I am frustrated. I don't know what to do for him. I'm not sure if he is afraid or not. I look at him and he has his ears straight up and the tail is wagging. Help!

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Aug 26, 2011
More Data
by: Sandy

Good idea Judy -- it definitely sounds like he is noise sensitive. Dampening down the source will most likely help, especially if you can put him up before the worst of the storm.

By the way, your subject intrigued me so I made a whole page on the subject; check out https://www.about-small-dogs.com/scared-of-thunderstorms.html.

Aug 26, 2011
by: judy Born

I have tried putting Gunner in his crate during a storm and he did not like it at all. At night he goes into his crate all by himself and is happy as a clam until a storm hits. He wants out! It seems that he has to get to the thunder. It's like he is trying to warn us about it. He will come into the living room barking and look at us like we are suppose to be barking too! One day I picked him up and stood inside the door while it was raining, lightening and thundering to show him where it was coming from. He settled down, and just sniffed the air. Then when I put him down he barks again. I would rather he hid under the couch compared to this "attack" mode he gets into. I think he is noise sensitive, he barks at fireworks and even the blender!

However, I have not tried the room with no windows and covering his crate up yet. I'll give that a try along with the calming supplement.

I will keep you posted after the next storm.



Aug 25, 2011
A Solution to Thunder Phobia
by: Sandy

Dear Judy,

It seems that small male dogs can be especially susceptible to becoming thunder and lightening phobic as they age.

I have heard from others that capes and "thunder-shirts" aren't really that effective, so your comment on that doesn't surprise me.

It has struck me as interesting that even though I have a kennel full of small male dogs, none of them have ever been thunder phobic, despite living in Tampa, lightening capital of the US.

Then my sister (who has one of my retired dogs) reported a problem -- during thunder storms Robbie would pace the house, shivering and shaking. When I thought about it it struck me -- my dogs are generally in their crates during storms. Surrounded by their safe den and with protection against the light flashes and booms of thunder, they sleep on unconcerned.

I was working in Minneapolis last year when there was a big storm. The family's old Coton de Tulear came to me at 3 in the morning, drooling and shaking. I tried to reassure him but he was inconsolable. So I put him in his crate, covered with a thick blanket in a windowless back bathroom. I could hear him settle down immediately.

So what do I recommend? At the first rumble of thunder, put your dog in his crate, preferably in a windowless room and cover it well. Protected from the sound and sight of the storm and safe in his den, he should be fine.

If he doesn't like being in a crate, you should fix that now before the next storm. I have posted how to do this at www.about-small-dogs.com/crate-training-for-dogs-that-hate-crates.html.

Good luck on this and let me know how it goes!

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