Sometimes when there is a thunderstorm or fireworks my dog will become restless and scratch at the front door or back door. If I open the door he doesn't move, but if I walk away he will begin scratching again. What can I do to make him feel more comfortable during these moments?
Have you tried a thundershirt? They are relatively inexpensive and provide a sort of "hug" for your dog in moments when it is anxious. I have a very reactive dog to people coming over to the house, and this seems to keep her calmer. I also know friends who swear by the Thundershirt for their dog during fireworks or lightening storms.
This sounds like an anxiety reaction that your dog is having to the loud noises.
My dog has several anxiety reactions that he trots out and my response to them is all the same: distractions and affection. Fireworks are one of the more difficult ones to distract him from because the noise is persistent, but at a minimum I try to make it a point to hug him and pull him into a family cuddle pile.
This lets him feel safe regardless of the cause of the anxiety. Sometimes I think he's anxious that he'll be hurt, other times I think he's worried that either my spouse or daughter will be hurt. Regardless, the family cuddle pile is my go-to for fireworks since everyone is happy and content, regardless of the external noises and it does seem to help bring him down again.
If your dog's anxiety doesn't respond to positive reinforcement techniques like this, it might be necessary to consider sedative treatments from your vet instead. If you go this route, just make sure to give them to your dog sufficiently in advance that they don't suffer through the entire anxiety-inducing event and then fall asleep afterwards.
Is your dog crate trained? If not look into crate training. Give your dog a safe, secure and positive place with the crate. When your dog feels unsafe or insecure they will automatically go to their safe space which will become the crate. Also work on some sound desensitisation, it doesn’t work well with artificial sound but it’s something.
Play thunder sounds just at a normal level and play with your dog, give the dog treats. If the dog is comfortable turn up the volume a bit and repeat, continue this making it louder and louder remembering it’ll take time and to take it slow, if your dog seems worried by the sounds then turn it down a bit and take a step back.
When you feel your dog is comfortable enough start to take the dog outside during a storm and play with the dog, make sure you stay upbeat and excited and make it the funnest most exciting thing ever!
Change your dogs mindset about these things rather than masking it with medications or other techniques and you’ll have a happier and more secure dog in the long run.