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  1. #1
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    Default Dogs and lightning?

    Hey all, so I plan to start doing overnight hikes with my golden retriever- we day hike all the time, and I think she's ready to be introduced to sleeping in a tent. (Nothing crazy long, just a couple short mileage days and maybe one to two full nights out on trail, at least to begin with).

    My question: my dog realllllly doesn't like thunder or lightning. Usually it's okay when I'm sitting with her, but we're in a secure house and she's still shaking. I figure it'll get worse when we're outside. Aside from doing our best to avoid any bad weather, do any of you dog folks have any tips or tricks when it comes to thunder? Thanks!
    2010 AT NoBo Thru "attempt" (guess 1,700 miles didn't quite get me all the way through ;) )
    Various adventures in Siberia 2016
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    (and maybe 2018 PCT NoBo)

  2. #2

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    Yikes, that could get pretty bad. I would say talk to your vet about possible sedative medications in case of thunderstorms. Otherwise you could end up with a dog sized hole in your tent... not to mention a lost, panicked animal.


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  3. #3

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    Since you are not doing long trips, it may be best to look at weather conditions that can lead to thunderstorms and pick your dog camping windows accordingly rather than medicating the dog who is terrified of thunderstorms. While not the best solution, its probably in the dogs best interest and you both will enjoy the experience more. This would be akin to being terrified of heights and your best friend insisted on hiking cliffside trails, giving you medication to dull your senses. You'd still be terrified with the added problem of sensory deprivation which for a dog would be very disquieting.

    I had a dog who was beyond terrified of thunderstorms who loved to hike, but jerked the leash out of my hand and ran off to find shelter after a surprise storm. She stayed hidden for hours, finally coming out when I happened to wander nearby looking for her. Had that happened in an area she was unfamiliar with she likely would have been lost, and even more panicked. I decided it would be kinder not to bring her along during the time of year where these storms can pop up and limit trail walking with her. She seemed to like that solution as well.
    Last edited by Traveler; 03-31-2017 at 06:49.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Since you are not doing long trips, it may be best to look at weather conditions that can lead to thunderstorms and pick your dog camping windows accordingly rather than medicating the dog who is terrified of thunderstorms. While not the best solution, its probably in the dogs best interest and you both will enjoy the experience more. This would be akin to being terrified of heights and your best friend insisted on hiking cliffside trails, giving you medication to dull your senses. You'd still be terrified with the added problem of sensory deprivation which for a dog would be very disquieting.

    I had a dog who was beyond terrified of thunderstorms who loved to hike, but jerked the leash out of my hand and ran off to find shelter after a surprise storm. She stayed hidden for hours, finally coming out when I happened to wander nearby looking for her. Had that happened in an area she was unfamiliar with she likely would have been lost, and even more panicked. I decided it would be kinder not to bring her along during the time of year where these storms can pop up and limit trail walking with her. She seemed to like that solution as well.
    I agree on limiting exposure, but I think it would be prudent to have an emergency option.


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  5. #5

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    Have you tried a thunder shirt with her? Also lavender essential oil is calming, even to dogs.

  6. #6
    Registered User Moosling's Avatar
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    ^I agree with Dune Elliot ^I'm a firm believer in the Thunder shirt. I have a Irish Setter mix that we rescued, he and his siblings were abandoned their mother taken away around 8-9 weeks old and were left outside during strong storms one summer. Since we've had him he is terrified of thunder storms, however I noticed if we held him close and tight, he will relax. That's the principle behind the thunder shirt. My wife is an doterra EO rep and she's used the lavender on my sons to help them be calm and sleep all night, we've had good results with the kids haven't tried with the dogs yet.

  7. #7

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    Our Golden is also afraid of thunderstorms, however when we are car camping (truck camper) he seems to see the space as home and is generally all right - or at least not completely terrified. Same with fireworks - as long as they aren't too loud or too close, he is okay in the truck because he has come to see it as home. OTOH, he has tried to dig his way out when they were really loud.

    The first time we took him backpacking, a yowling animal outside had him so excited he tore through the mesh window to go after it. Fortunately it was a really cheap tent we had bought to see how he'd do. On later trips he was fine, but he was never given any reason to get too excited. We've only taken him on a handful of backpacking trips, and though we've had a fair amount of rain, thunder wasn't much of an issue. One thing we do is keep him on his long leash at all times, so if he does try to run, he is still attached to one of us.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by heatherfeather View Post
    I agree on limiting exposure, but I think it would be prudent to have an emergency option.


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    A vet would probably be a good judge of that.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    A vet would probably be a good judge of that.
    That was what I was suggesting in the first place. I understand you have an axe to grind here, I am not saying you are wrong, I just think that it is worth looking at all options, under vet supervision. There are a lot of places in this country where there are no times of the year when you have zero chance of thunderstorms. And sometimes forecasts are wrong. I have heard the thunder shirts are great, and that would probably be the best first option. But, if owner and vet agree, having a pharmaceutical option may be a viable choice. I was not suggesting the OP shove a Valium, preferably from their personal supply , down the dog's throat and drag it out on a stormy day on purpose.

    So any dogs I have ever owned I have never had this problem, they are thankfully pretty good in storms. But a friend of mine had a dog who was terrified. On a hike where a storm was a couple valleys over, not right on top of us, she gave him a sliver of an anti-anxiety med recommended to her my the vet (I forget which med) and it took the edge off. Seemed pretty reasonable to me, but my experience with the issue is limited to that encounter. Different strokes and all that.


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  10. #10
    Springer to Elk Park, NC/Andover to Katahdin
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    I have a dog that is terrified of storms. Funny thing is that she lived on the streets for over three years and had to endure a lot of nasty thunderstorms. A Thunder Shirt does seem to help some.
    I am not young enough to know everything.

  11. #11
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    Thunder shirt, cool! Never heard of it, but I'll look into it, thanks!

    Thanks all, for the advice- as long as I'm with her (so far) she won't run away... she just shakes like a leaf and I have a feeling that it'd be too stressful for her. I think for now I'll try the thundershirt and limiting trips with her due to weather, who knows, maybe she'll adapt a bit?

    Thanks again, all!
    2010 AT NoBo Thru "attempt" (guess 1,700 miles didn't quite get me all the way through ;) )
    Various adventures in Siberia 2016
    Adventures past and present!
    (and maybe 2018 PCT NoBo)

  12. #12
    Registered User AThkr's Avatar
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    The Thunder shirts don't work. Got one for my dog and it hasn't changed a thing. Be careful giving dogs any sedatives you may have cause it can make them aggressive.

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