Can Weather Affect a Dog's Behavior?

by Sarah Dray
    Is that thunder? Hide me.

    Is that thunder? Hide me.

    George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Wind, thunder, heat... They can all affect Doggie's behavior and mood. Weather doesn't have the same effect on all animals, though. Some dogs are particularly scared of thunder, while others ignore it. The same is true of other weather phenomena -- it depends on the dog and how sensitive he is.

    Thunder and Lighting

    If you have a dog who's scared of thunder, you already know how storms can affect canine behavior. Signs of phobia include panting, whimpering or barking, and hiding. According to a study conducted by Penn State University researchers, some dogs experience a rapid increase of cortisol -- the stress hormone -- during thunderstorms. In fact, when researchers tested the saliva of thunder-phobic dogs, they found their production of cortisol to be 200 percent higher than that of dogs who aren't afraid of thunder. According to the same researchers, 15 percent to 30 percent of dogs are extremely scared of thunder.

    Low-Pressure Fronts

    Changes in barometric pressure can affect dogs' behavior significantly, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. Yours might become agitated -- if he's afraid of wind or storms -- or he might become overexcited and curious, ready to pick up scents in the air and go exploring. If you've ever seen your dog sniffing the air as a storm approaches, he might be monitioring incoming weather change. As pressure in the air gets lower, the way odors travel changes. Your dog can notice these changes even if you can't.

    Sensing Bad Weather

    Dogs, more perceptive to changes in the weather than we are, can feel changes in the static electric field that occur in the air, especially as a strong storm approaches. That's why dogs might be able to "guess" a tornado or major storm is coming. According to the SPCA, some dogs jump into a bathtub when they sense a change in air static. Although experts are not sure why dogs do it -- it could be a search for comfort or safety -- it is a common behavior as electrical storms approach.

    Hot Weather

    Stormy and extreme weather aren't all that can affect your dog's behavior -- hot weather can affect Doggie's behavior. For example, some dogs eat less and become less active when it's very hot. They prefer to lie down on cool tile or near a source of airflow. Some dogs, just like people, become cranky and unwilling to go for walks or to do any exercise when the temperature is high.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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