Storms - either you love them, or you hate them. Some people hate the rain and noise from loud thunder. Others, love the fresh smell of rain and the roar of thunder nearing. One individual that might not love storms is your pup.
Dogs are notorious for hating bad weather, and want to hear something a little scary? It seems like they can sense the bad weather coming! Why else would there be many stories of pups going nuts just before a storm? If you’ve never seen your dog do this, it’s important to watch for signs that they might be uncomfortable, even when you have no idea why.
Signs Your Dog Might Sense a Storm
Every dog is different. So, your dog may or may not react to an approaching storm. However, if they do react, they might do some of the following things.
You might notice them shaking. Some dogs just shake by nature, but it can also be a sign your dog is scared. Some dogs are terrified of the noise from storms. You might also notice them panting or pacing. These are just behaviors dogs can be exhibit when they are stressed. You also might notice them barking or running around your house. They might be sensing the storm is coming, and they might be trying to communicate that to you.
There are some other, more serious things you need to watch for if your pup is dangerously distressed. If the storm is scaring them enough, your pup might also try hiding. It's not surprising to find them in an odd spot because they are trying to get away from the noise. Some pups might even get so scared they might try to run away. So, be cautious about keeping doors and windows closed. If not, your pup could get out and get hurt.
History of Dogs Sensing Storms
Historically, as far as dogs and the weather, we can assume they go way back. Since before dogs were domesticated, they have had to live with the changing weather. Maybe this is why they seem to have a keen sense of when a storm or even natural disaster is coming. Who knows - but that exposure definitely couldn’t hurt. If they knew when a storm was coming, and a storm could mean danger for them and their pack, since they lived outside, they might be able to get to shelter and stay safe.
This sentiment still appears to be alive and well in many dogs. A dog lover once recounted going on a lake trip with her family and observing her sister-in-law’s Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix trembling and hiding in the basement, one evening. Though it’s not out of character for a Chihuahua to shake, even when they aren’t afraid, she could tell the dog was distressed.
She asked her sister-in-law about it, and she mentioned that the dog always knew before a large thunderstorm was coming, and the poor dog was distressed. So, the three of them set out to the local pet store and got the pup some calming treats to see if they would help. Sure enough, not long after, a large storm rolled in. While still scared, the pup cuddled up with the family and seemed to calm down a bit. Once the storm had passed, she was totally fine again.
Science Behind Dogs Sensing Storms
So, why do dogs seem to be able to sense storms before they’ve happened? The answer is fairly simple. Dogs have very sharp senses of smell and hearing. Did you know a dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 better than yours, according to animals.mom.me.
Their sense of hearing is uncanny too. Dogs can hear much higher frequencies, probably somewhere between 40,000 to 60,000 Hz, according to petmeds.com.
If you think about it, too, humans can also sense when a storm is coming. Have you ever smelled the rain before it started raining or heard thunder in the distance? You probably have. Since your dog’s senses are so much stronger, think how much earlier they can sense a storm. There might even be blue skies and sunshine, and they might still feel something coming. It’s uncanny!
Training Your Dog to Sense Storms
Are you interested in training your dog to alert you when a storm is coming? It’d definitely be a cool trick, but it isn’t likely that you'll be successful. You’re probably better off watching your pup’s body language and cues they give you. They might even be trying to communicate a storm is coming in order to protect you! So, keep your eyes and ears open.
As mentioned above, some dogs get very distressed by an incoming storm, so it’s important to help your dog relax if they are scared. Maybe give them some extra cuddles, stay calm yourself, and give them a few treats if they are interested.
Some dog owners swear by thundershirts or calming treats, but it’s probably best to ask your vet before taking these measures. It’s also important to keep all of your doors and windows secured. Your pup might get so scared that they try to run away, and they could get lost, hurt, or killed if they get out. So, be cautious.
So, can a dog tell when a storm is coming? Absolutely! So, if your dog starts communicating that to you, get your rain slicker and boots ready.
By Katie Anderson
Published: 05/09/2018, edited: 04/06/2020