In “Dogs Behaving Badly” by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, he explains that “even before a storm arrives (changing electrical fields?) they start to look anxious and begin to pace and whimper, sometimes seeking solace from their owner. As the wind and rain pick up and the storm rumbles closer, the state that some dogs enter can only be described as one of panic or sheer terror. It is even worse for the dogs if they happen to be alone during the storm, and many tear through the screens, some hurtling out of second or third story windows to the ground below and injuring themselves in the process.”
Dr. Dodman adds that owners of dogs with thunderstorm phobia often state that their dogs were mildly anxious during storms as pups and that this mild anxiety carried on for a few years before a cataclysmic worsening that could be related to a particular storm on a particular day.
A 2018study on dogs with noise sensitivity adds that “Dogs which show fear or anxiety when faced with loud or sudden noises should be routinely assessed for pain by veterinarians, according to new research.
Researchers believe that pain, which could be undiagnosed, could be exacerbated when a noise makes the dogs tense up or 'start', putting extra stress on muscles or joints which are already inflamed leading to and associated with a loud or startling noise,” viaScience Daily.
Professor Daniel Mills from the University of Lincoln's School of Life Sciences explains that they believe that undiagnosed pain could be exacerbated when dogs react to a noise that makes a dog tense up putting extra stress on inflamed muscles and joints, causing more pain.
The researchers explain that the “pain is then associated with a loud or startling noise, leading to a sensitivity to noise and avoidance of situations where they had previously had a bad experience -- for example a local park, or a louder room in the house.”
The researchers concluded:"We found that these dogs which had pain do indeed show different signs, in particular, they seem to form much wider associations with the noise, for example, they would often tend to avoid not just the place where they had the bad experience but much larger areas too. These dogs also tended to avoid other dogs as well. The findings of this study are really important because they contribute to the dog's welfare and improved behavior as pain could be identified and subsequently treated," via Science Daily.
Another study has gained insight into how domestic dogs react to noises. “Our results suggest that the characteristics of dogs, their early environment, and exposure to specific noises are involved in the development of fear responses to noises,” says Dr. Rachel Casey, who led the study at theSchool of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, via Claudia Bensimoun, Animal Wellness.
Dr. Casey explains that “almost half the people interviewed reported their dogs showed at least one behavioral sign of typical fear when exposed to noises such as fireworks, thunder and gunshots, even though only a quarter reported their dogs were fearful of noises.”
Apparently the most commonly reported behavioral responses included vocalizing, trembling, shaking, hiding, and seeking people. Fear responses to loud noises from fireworks, gunshots and thunder appear to commonly co-occur, suggesting generalization between these stimuli. Interestingly, many responses to less salient sounds, such as traffic and TV noises, apparently co-occurred with other signs of fear or anxiety; but responses to fireworks, gunshots, and thunder did not commonly co-occur with separation-related behavior or behaviors linked to fear or anxiety.”
The study concluded that fear responses to less important noises (TV, traffic) probably reflect fearful personality characteristics (as with Penny and the truck-hating poodle), while those to very significant noises (gunshots, thunder, fireworks), may reflect specific exposures and experiences.