Why are dogs frightened of thunder?

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Andy

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« on: 04/07/2008 09:42:21 »
Andy asked the Naked Scientists:

My dog is a large, menacing looking German Shepherd who becomes a quaking mess whenever thunderstorms occur. Why are dogs so sensitive to thunder? My cats never seem to mind. Are other species frightened by thunder as well?

What do you think?

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #1 on: 04/07/2008 14:23:48 »
My wife is terrified :)
Dogs all 4 of them don't take any notice.
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #2 on: 04/07/2008 17:05:23 »
There are a number of factors involved.

Firstly, a dog's hearing is more sensitive than that of a human. Thunder must sound very loud indeed.

Secondly, how the owner reacts to the dog's reaction is very important. If he/she pets & soothes the animal in an effort to comfort it then it is more likely to repeat the behaviour. If, on the other hand, the owner shouts at the dog to stop then the dog has even more reason to be scared next time there is thunder.

The owner's reaction can play a part in another way. If the dog has been startled by, say, a passing lorry or other loud vehicle and the owner has reacted in an adverse way, or tried to overly soothe the dog, the animal may, in future, carry that reaction over to when it thunders.

I have seen many different reactions to thunder with my own dogs. My Staffie looks out the window wondering what's going on, my Jack Russell stands on the window sill growling & barking at it, my Mastiffs just lounge around taking no notice whatsoever coz they're too stoical to be bothered by it, my Rottie x Great Dane tries to hide behind the armchairs, and my German Shepherd x Ridgeback used to try to climb onto my lap.
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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #3 on: 04/07/2008 20:43:43 »
Hmmm Ridgebacks love em Doc. My friend has a male puppy he is lovely and already half the size of a donkey.

I agree about the way we react. Its a good job they dont take after my wife though because 4 bully's running under the table to hide might not set a good example of this breed. :)
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #4 on: 05/07/2008 09:57:43 »
Hmmm Ridgebacks love em Doc. My friend has a male puppy he is lovely and already half the size of a donkey.

I agree about the way we react. Its a good job they dont take after my wife though because 4 bully's running under the table to hide might not set a good example of this breed. :)

 [:D]

This 1 grumbles at everything so I'm not sure of his reaction to thunder  [;D]

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #5 on: 05/07/2008 10:10:39 »
awww... cute wickle doggie



but would you argue with her?

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #6 on: 05/07/2008 18:46:01 »
Lovely dogs Eth Thanks for the pictures, Did you see mine at play in Cockington?
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/939880/daft_dogs_funny_bull_terriers_good_family_video/
My friends male is from top stock in Scotland and looks amazing for a yougster. Ill see if I can get him to send a photo or 2 or maybe take a couple of photos next time he brings him here.

Andrew
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #7 on: 05/07/2008 22:17:36 »
Andrew - they're mental! I cracked up at that 1 who briefly chases his tail then legs it.
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Offline inkthecity

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #8 on: 06/07/2008 17:04:44 »
Thanks for the answers. Dr. Beaver, I try to "act normal" when thunder occurs. I try to get the dog to play, etc, and try to remain calm and relaxed so he'll pick up on it, but it doesn't work. Fortunately, we get thunderstorms seldom enough that it's not that much of a bother, but we had one this 4th of July weekend here in Seattle, Washington that had something like 2500 strikes. My pup was displeased, but also on sedatives.

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Offline opus

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Why are dogs frightened of thunder?
« Reply #9 on: 01/08/2008 14:42:20 »
My Auntie had the same reaction to thunder as some of your dogs.....she would dive under the nearest table and refuse to come out until the storm had passed. Trouble was she was a midwife.......