You must have seen at least one movie where a dog keeps barking before the weather in the scene starts to change. While some instance of these reactions might be exaggerated for cinematic purpose, there seems to be some truth to it.
So, can dogs really sense a hurricane? If so, how do they do it? Can they hear it from far away? Or are they attuned to some changes in the atmosphere that tips them off? Let’s take a closer look at the case of dogs sensing hurricanes.
Signs of Dogs Sensing a Hurricane
When a hurricane arrives, there’s no mistaking it. But the real interesting thing is knowing it before it comes. When your doggo senses it, they will let you know with their behavior. While the exact reactions may vary, they can usually be described with words like unusual, hyper, and erratic. As a dog owner, you will know which behavior qualifies for these descriptions.
If you’re inside, a strong sign of your dog sensing the hurricane is them scratching the door. Or if you're outside, they may run inside after some barking. A change in normal behavior may also indicate that your dog is detecting some weather troubles such as a hurricane.If you see your doggo jumping up and down and you can’t imagine why, check the news or ask friends in the city about any hurricanes. For instance, a well-behaved dog barking incessantly or a usually active dog suddenly cowering both can be signs that the dog is sensing something as serious as a hurricane. Your pooch may also run towards you and want to cuddle. So keep an eye out for all these ways your dog may be signaling that they sense a hurricane.
History of Dogs Sensing a Hurricane
We have noticed dogs sensing bad weather for a long time. Dogs sensing hurricanes as they get closer are among the many, many stories we have heard over the years. Today, modern science enables several days of advance warning for hurricanes. But back when that wasn’t the case, dogs sensing some troubling weather was of even more importance.
Having descended from wolves, dogs certainly have some cool survival instincts. Being able to sense a hurricane should definitely be counted as one of these abilities. Dogs who survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are among other animals kept at the Endangered Animal Rescue Sanctuary (EARS) in Marion County. The owners of the EARS remark that these dogs also become restless when a storm is approaching.The domestication of dogs may have eroded some of the instincts of dogs over the course of history. However, they can’t exactly take their weather updates from the TV or radio. These only work for their human owners. So, they continue to rely on their natural senses to pick up on preludes to hurricanes and other weather anomalies. And it wouldn’t hurt us to pay attention to their inherent “radar” either.
Science of Dogs Sensing a Hurricane
So what’s the science behind dogs sensing a hurricane? One of the things that help dogs in this respect is barometric pressure. Changes in this pressure and static electricity are often symptoms of a hurricane. Your pooch can feel these changes in the atmosphere and then react accordingly. While you may not see a cloud in the sky, your dog may be on to the hurricane on the horizon.A dog’s acute sense of smell also helps them sense a hurricane. The scent of ozone in the air from lightning, humidity, and other elements may tip off your dog. So whether it is simply rain or a hurricane, your dog will pick up on the impending change in weather long before you do. Plus, your dog’s hearing is 20 times stronger than yours. This makes it more likely for them to hear the thunder from much farther away.
Training Your Dog to Sense a Hurricaine
Your first priority should be to confirm whether a hurricane is really on its way or not. Check the news to see if you have missed anything on that front. If something is really headed your way, you need to do what the authorities have told you to do. If the coast is clear, you should focus on reassuring your dog. If you have a smaller pup, they may need more reassuring. This is the time to be your most patient and gentle self.
If you feel your dog goes into a panic a little too often, you can consider ways to deal with this fear. For instance, you can use a desensitization technique. This is where you play a recording of thunder as your dog is busy enjoying meal. Over time, this can be a very effective way of dealing with your dog overreacting to weather changes.
Dogs who have gone through a storm react more strongly to weather changes. So if you know your canine friend has had such an experience, you should be more reassuring and gentle with them. It’s also best to discuss a suitable training solution with a professional to help your doggo overcome their anxiety. You should also consider buying thunder shirts for your furry friend.
Written by Fatima Mansoor
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 06/26/2018, edited: 04/06/2020