Can Dogs Hear Lightning?

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We've all seen those shivering, scared pups just as the sound of thunder booms. It's hard not to notice the connection between change in weather and our dogs ability to know these changes before we do. This "sixth sense" definitely makes us wonder, although dogs can definitely hear thunder, are they able to hear lightning as well? Read on to find out!
Introduction of Can Dogs Hear Lightning?

Signs Your Dog Can Sense a Storm Coming

Ever hear the saying that cows lay down when they sense rain? While this might be an old wive's tale, most animals are able to anticipate storms and sense changes the weather. Researchers theorize that, dogs particularly,  learn to anticipate those weather changes the more often they are exposed to them.

While your pooch can't tell you how bad a storm is going to be, owners are able to observe their pup's behavior in order to tell when a storm might be coming. Dogs are able to sense when it’s time to crawl into bed for a rainy day, and will often herd their humans to where they can keep an eye everything while they pace agitatedly (remember, dogs can sense storms but don't fully understand them). It may appear as though your pup is bored or restless, but take the time to look at the weather forecast to see if there is a thunderstorm brewing. 

Dogs have senses that are much more sensitive and in tune to the environment than ours,  so if we can learn to observe, recognize, and interpret our dog's behaviors we might be able to be weathermen too.

Body Language

Signs your pooch senses a storm coming may include:
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Panting
  • Pacing

Other Signs

Other signs your pup senses a storm coming:
  • Agitated
  • Seeking shelter
  • Clinging to family members
History of Can Dogs Hear Lightning?

The Science Behind Dogs Sensing Storms

Science of Can Dogs Hear Lightning?

From years of evolution, dogs have very sensitive senses and a basic “animal instincts." They can sense when the weather is changing and may try to warn their humans of oncoming storms. 

Hearing, Feeling, and Smelling

Although your pup may give you signs of selective hearing, your pup's hearing is about 20 times more sensitive than human hearing. Although dogs can't exactly hear lightning, dogs are indeed more sensitive to drops in barometric pressure and shifts in the static electric field that happen right before weather changes. For instance, severe weather conditions like tornados bring about these changes, and dogs can feel these small changes in electricity and air pressure.  Researchers even believe that dogs may experience shocks from static electricity during thunderstorms.

Even further, while us humans can't hear thunder until it is nearby, our dogs can hear thunder in the distance, as well at its vibrations (hence, why your pup seems so agitated with the loud booms of thunder).

In addition to sensing drops in temperature, dogs also have amazing nose power (while human noses have 6 million receptor sites, a dog's nose can have up to 200 to 300 million). A dog can smell the ozone in the air from lightening strikes and the way other smells hang in the humidity before a storm hits. 

Training Your Dog to Cope with Storms

Training of Can Dogs Hear Lightning?
According to research, about 1/3 of all dogs have anxiety, with thunderstorms as one of the leading causes. Because many dogs are afraid of thunder, one of the best things you can do is make sure that you are around for comfort and reward your pup for positive, calm behavior.  You can also help by making sure your pup has a safe place to go "hide." A comfy, enclosed bed works perfectly, or you can cover their crate with a blanket. 

Because dogs can experience shocks from the static electricity, it would be helpful to keep your pup grounded before and during the storm. Basements, bathtubs, and other enclosed spaces are great for keeping you and your pup grounded.

Dog jackets can also help by acting as an anxiety wrap to calm down your panicked dog. These items of clothing help hold dogs tightly to make them feel safe and secure.  

If nothing seems to be working, you may need to train your pup through desensitization and counter-conditioning. This includes introducing your dog gradually to the sounds of thunder and storms with CDs and music so they can get used to those noises. Play the CDs with the volume low at first, and gradually increase the volume after a few sessions. If and when your dog seems afraid, turn the CDs off. Your ultimate goal is to get your pup  to ignore the storms. Make sure to reward your pup with treats. You want your pooch to associate the sound of storms with something good!

How to React to Your Dog During Storms:

  • Don't leave your pup outside.
  • Help your dog feel safe.
  • Reward calm behavior with treats.
  • Let dogs be dogs and sense these storms with their natural animal instincts!.