How do you feel when you see rain in the forecast, and you have a dog afraid of rain? Do you start panicking because you know the anxiety he will experience?
Dogs typically cry when it rains because they have a noise phobia. That means they experience excessive fear, stress and anxiety when they hear loud noises. It could be fireworks, thunder or in this case, rain. I surveyed 281 dog owners to find out what they did to help.
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What is a Noise Phobia?
Simply point, it is an excessive fear of a noise or sound that makes the dog want to avoid or escape from it. While fireworks and thunderstorms are the most common, they aren’t the only ones.
What Other Noises Can Dogs Fear?
- TV, radio…
- Parties or loud gatherings
- Car backfiring
How Do Noise Phobias Develop?
That can be very difficult to pinpoint.
→ It’s possible a dog was startled by a car backfiring, or a particularly heavy rainfall accompanied by thunder. She may have been too close to such a loud noise and that’s how things started.
→ Your dog may have a genetic predisposition for noise anxiety. A study in Norway of noise sensitivity in 17 dog breeds found Norwegian Buhund, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Lagotto Romagnolo had the highest frequency of noise sensitivity, while Boxer, Chinese Crested and Great Dane had lower frequencies of fear created by noise. The study “Noise sensitivity in 17 dog breeds: Prevalence, breed risk and correlation with fear in other situations” can be found here.
→ It’s seen quite often in older dogs
→ Humans displaying signs of nervousness around loud noises can trigger anxiety in their dog.
Signs Your Dog is Afraid of Rain/Has Noise Phobia
- Peeing or pooping in the house
- Throwing up
- Seeking comfort from his people
- Trying to run away/escape
You will also see many of these signs in a dog that suffers from other forms of anxiety, particularly separation anxiety.
To learn more about separation anxiety and how you can help your dog – “How to Cure Dog Separation Anxiety”
How to Help a Dog Afraid of Rain
Offer a Safe Place to Hide
- Set up a crate in a corner, partially cover it with a blanket and leave the door open for easy access.
- A bed and water bowl in a closet or bathroom, preferably windowless.
- Let him hide under your bed.
Play Calming Music
When your dog is in a relaxed state, play calming music. Do it fairly regularly so he gets used to being in that state of mind whenever he hears it. When it starts to rain or there’s a risk of other loud noises, playing that music may help get him back to that relaxed state.
Speak to your vet about medication, and be sure to ask about usage and side effects.
Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning
Play rain sounds at a very low volume, so low your dog doesn’t react. At the same time offer him a bone, Kong, favorite toy or have a play session. Over days or even weeks, practice this exercise regularly, each time very gradually raising the volume. If at any point your dog reacts, you’ve moved too quickly. Reduce the volume back to the point where he was ignoring it, and go slower.
The point is to create a positive association – when he hears rain he knows it’s time for a delicious treat or some fun.
Turn the tv on louder, play a favorite game, do some training…anything he likes that could distract him from the noise. You may need to do it in the basement or sit with him in the closet.
A calming wrap to help relieve anxiety, the Thundershirt has been successful in calming many anxious dogs. Visit their website to learn more, and to purchase – visit Chewy or Amazon.
Rescue Remedy Pet
A liquid blend of 5 Bach Flower Remedies, this all-natural alcohol-free product helps calm stressed and anxious dogs. Visit their website to learn more, and to purchase visit Chewy or Amazon.
From Valerian to Melatonin, there is a wide range of calming options. Here is an article I wrote filled with a variety of recommendations – “How to Calm Dog Anxiety Naturally (22 Easy Ways)“
Is it Possible to Prevent a Noise Phobia from Developing?
Do the same exercise as discussed in the desensitization section above, but find a variety of sounds – thunder, hail, fireworks, a car backfiring.
Here’s how two dog parents I know prevented noise phobia
“None of my dogs have ever had a noise phobia. I’m talking over 25 years and there’s been plenty of opportunities. When they’re puppies I take them outside, sit them on my lap and talk quietly to them, sometimes with enthusiasm and other times soothingly … whenever there’s to be a “noise event” of any kind. Fireworks, storms. It’s been a few years now since we had Canada Day fireworks here in our town due to Covid, but the year before they all got bored with the flash and noise and decided to nap instead.”
“When we got our young adult 2 years ago, I started doing sessions with her by playing common noises dogs are afraid of on YouTube through our tv. All of my other dogs would listen as well. We gave lots of treats and now all of them have no issues with any loud noises. My senior on the other hand is deaf, so of course he isn’t phased by anything.”
What Owners of Dogs With Noise Phobias Do to Help
I surveyed 281 people who had dogs with noise phobias which include rain, and here’s what they do to help!
“I keep a bed in the shower where she likes to go, and lie down when there are noises that scare her. if it is fireworks day, I give her CBD in the morning so she is calm all day.”
“Stress Away works really well. It’s all natural and we give it to Tobie and Lucy when the weather threatens and on the “scare the crap out of my dog” holiday fireworks. I get it from my vet, but I’m sure it’s available online.” – I looked this up and see it is an essential oils blend from a company called Young Living. I don’t see any pet specific product, so please contact them and speak to your vet to make sure it’s safe.
“We just had a storm. Nemo climbed into my lap, shaking like a leaf. He also freaks out at electronic noises, like power going on or off, or beeping noises. I just pet him and hold him until he calms down.”
“Thundershirts and calming treats have helped us a ton.”
“Very loud rock or disco music. We try to talk over the music and continue with our day as if nothing interesting is happening outside. As long as you start before the fireworks start, they won’t know the difference! It’s been fool proof for us for years – even gets us through our neighbor’s yearly professional firework show.”
“CBD oil has helped my boy tremendously.”
“When we had a very phobic dog, I would use Bach flower remedies and homeopathics. My dog was very appreciative.”
“CBD and in a quiet room.”
“Fan, A/C, loud tv to drown out the noise. But I make sure I don’t react to the noise at all either.”
“Lay with her, turn the tv up a bit and just make her know that I’m here and she will be ok.”
“Music, calming treats, and cuddles. She liked to hide in the shower or bedroom, so I let her and sometimes even joined her.”
“I use July Third calming chews from Herbsmith Inc. I also use Animal EO Essential Oils.”
“Box fans on high during fireworks helps a great deal.”
What do you do to help your dog with noise phobia? Sharing helps others, so tell us in the comments below.
Are struggling to help your dog cope with his noise phobia? Book your FREE, 15 minute no obligation call today. You’ll have the chance to tell me what’s going on, how it’s affecting you, your family and your dog, and I’ll explain how I can help. Get in touch via my FB page or website.