Thunderstorms and Firecrackers

My thirteen year old dog, Bonnie, has always been sensitive with sound. She is a silky terrier and like most silky terriers, she is very active and alert. She is also a very cuddly lap dog.

I got her in April of 2000. I soon found out that she shook in terror at the sound of thunder. She also barked furiously when she heard thunder. The sequence was thunderclap, ensue barking, thunder stops and a shaking dog remains.. I decided and it was a decision since I do not read doggy minds that Bonnie believed that her barking stopped the thunder. I tried to look at it from her point of view. Thunder, bark and thunder stops and shake to get ready for the next thunder. She was a powerful little doggy. This was not so bad during the day. At night it was not good for sleeping. I made the mistake of letting her sleep on the bed so could comfort her. She is still on the bed. During storms, she began to lay on top of my head shaking.

The fireworks reactions soon followed. Fireworks are a traditional way to celebrate the Fourth of July. They are readily available in Michigan and somehow the celebration sporadically starts in June and seems to go until late summer. Since fireworks noise is brief, her reaction is just shaking with fear.


When she was a younger dog, the behavior was extreme. As she got older, it began to moderate. It was still strong enough to hinder my sleeping at night. Whenever there was a thunderstorm, I still woke up with a dog on my head. And it seemed as if she was stuck on with Velcro. On warm summer nights, having a warm, hairy dog on my head was not a good feeling.

About a year ago I bought a Thundershirt for her.

Last night, we had the combo. Firecrackers were going off a couple of doors down down the street in the evening and they were followed by a thunderstorm. I held up the Thundershirt and she stood still so I could put it on her. She now knows that it makes her feel calm. After it was on her, she collapsed to the side and went to sleep. Her only storm/fireworks reaction now is that she wants me between her and the window.
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2 thoughts on “Thunderstorms and Firecrackers

  1. I know it sounds cruel but you should never comfort a dog when it is frightened. The affection reinforces in their mind that the fear reaction is OK. Stay calm and resist the urge to cuddle.
    Beautiful little dog.

    • Sadly, she is 13. I got her from a pet shop and she probably was a puppy mill puppy. I’ll probably write about that in a post. She had a misspent youth. At 13, she is a joyful lovely mellow dog.

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