11 Proven Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog
Dogs are utterly devoted to their human companions. They provide an amazing, unconditional level of love and support. However, it’s also not uncommon for a dog to become anxious given the correct circumstances. Whether they’re anxious because of loud noises or another animal, you can take action to help him feel more comfortable.
What is dog anxiety or separation anxiety?
An anxious dog responds fearfully or anxiously to certain stimuli, whether it be during normal day-to-day activities (e.g., the sound of the doorbell, loud noises like thunder) or in response to specific triggers (e.g., seeing another dog on a leash).
Having a dog with anxiety is stressful for your pet and the pet owners – it can lead to destructive behavior problems that create even more stress on both of you.
Anxious dogs are not what they seem. While many things might cause a dog to be nervous, frightened, or stressed, at the root of it most are simply feeling out of control with no way to cope.
The trick is being able to recognize when your dog is feeling this way so you can help them get back to feeling calm and confident.
How do I know if my dog is anxious?
Is your dog always on guard? Does he become more so when he’s in a new situation, or around another animal, person, child, or some other stimulus that typically wouldn’t bother him? Is his resting-bitch face something that seems more common than not? Then your dog might have dog anxiety.
Unfortunately, many people assume their dogs are being bad for barking at the doorbell. It may feel like they’re just being stubborn because they’re refusing to listen to commands even though it isn’t up to their usual standard of behavior – what’s happening is much worse. Your dog isn’t being stubborn, he’s more on guard than usual and his stress levels are elevated, making it difficult for him to do what you ask.
Does your dog seem a bit skittish or hesitant about taking treats? If so, he may be nervous.
When does my dog become anxious?
There’s no one answer as it varies from dog-to-dog and situation-to-situation. Some dogs quickly become nervous when meeting new people or in new environments, while others only exhibit separation anxiety when under specific circumstances (e.g., going to the vet, going to the groomer). Separation anxiety can also come and go, not always being a major issue but still being something worth knowing about.
What causes dog anxiety?
In most cases, it’s a lack of proper socialization during the early stages of development. In the wild, dogs learn from their mothers and litter-mates how to get along together without fighting or hurting one another. Sadly dogs today, they don’t experience this very real lesson in becoming socialized because they never have the opportunity to interact with other animals while they’re young enough to develop properly.
Additionally, some more serious situations can cause separation anxiety later on in life such as a traumatic event or a painful experience, while others may have had an anxious temperament from birth that has been exacerbated by certain stressful events throughout their life.
Regardless of the cause, separation anxiety can be very detrimental to your dog’s well-being and overall behavior. It can lead to aggression, hyper-vigilance (overly-attentive), phobias, compulsions, stress-related diseases, and even self-injury in severe cases.
How do I help my dog?
There are many ways pet parents can reduce separation anxiety or just anxiety in dogs; here are some of the most proven ways:
1. Provide A Safe Space For Your Dog
Many anxiety-based behaviors are based in fear, and what’s scary for a dog is being confined or trapped somewhere he doesn’t want to be. Some examples of this might include jumping on guests that enter your home, growling at strangers that come too close, or trying to escape from the vet during a checkup. If they can break free from whatever they’re feeling trapped by (the negative stimulus), this can reduce feelings of panic they’re experiencing due to their confinement.
So how do you create space?
You need to give them access so they can escape if necessary – but keep it open enough so that it is still safe. Dogs will choose a spot on the other side of a room from where they think the threat is coming from – this might mean getting a dog bed or blanket and putting it by a window or door, or on top of stairs if your pet has trouble going up and down them.
2. Let Your Dog Have A Say In What They’re Doing
Dogs are not mindless creatures that exist only to please their human counterparts; they have needs too! For dogs, one way of helping them feel more at ease is giving them control over their environment – which means making sure you don’t force them into anything he doesn’t want to do. This may be new for you as well: letting your dog say no to things that stress him out.
For example, if your pup gets nervous around other animals and you want to walk him daily, it’s time for a rethink. If he whines or backs away from the leash when you come near with it, then don’t put it on! It doesn’t matter how long you’ve had him or how much exercise he needs (dog release tension) – this is about what works best for him at the moment.
3. Give Your Dog A Consistent Routine
One of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety in dogs is establishing a routine where they know what will happen next without having to guess. For instance, if you always eats dinner at 6 pm every night, they’ll come to expect it. This way it will tame their fears when you have to leave them alone in the house for a couple of hours – because they know that dinner is right around the corner!
4. Let Your Dog Get Used To His Environment
Many dogs are anxious in new locations or strange situations simply because they don’t recognize what’s going on around them. The more time you give your pup to get used to new things, the less anxious he’ll be later on down the road. This might mean bringing him with you when you head out shopping or letting him tag along when you visit friends or family members who live nearby.
5. Work With A Trainer For More Individualized Help
If you have an anxiety-ridden dog, don’t hesitate to contact a certified professional dog trainer for help – there are so many ways they can be of assistance! If your pup has trouble with other dogs, the trainer might be able to give you advice on exercises or tricks that will help him better handle being around them. You could also work with them for guidance on specific situations (if your dog is afraid of strangers, bring in the trainer when someone new comes over). Working one-on-one with somebody who’s experienced in handling anxious dog will make all the difference; especially if it means getting to know what triggers certain behaviors and learning how to avoid them.
6. Consult Your Vet About Medication & Supplements
Dogs can’t explain how they’re feeling, which means it’s up to you to try and help them feel better. If your pup is suffering from separation anxiety, the first thing you need to do is consult with your vet about possible medication or supplements that can help him out (talk to them before trying anything new on your own).
They might be able to give you some anti-anxiety medications that will calm your dog down without making him drowsy or sleepy; this is especially true if he already has a condition like epilepsy or Cushing’s Disease. Something as simple as switching out his food might work wonders too – some foods marketed for pets include ingredients that are proven to reduce stress levels in animals.
CBD oil is a natural alternative for helping calm dog anxiety, separation anxiety and other mood disorders, as are acupuncture treatments. These are just two examples of how dog owners can look for alternative treatment options rather than automatically resorting to prescription medication.
7. Don’t Punish Your Dog For Being Anxious
Don’t punish your dog for being anxious! Sure, it’s not nice to see him suffering and you might be tempted to bark back at him or shove his face into a puddle of water until he stops, but don’t do that. It will only make things worse in the long run because he’ll become afraid of you – making all other interactions very difficult. Plus, it won’t stop the dog’s anxiety from coming back later on down the road.
8. Be Patient & Consistent With Your Approach
It may take some time before your anxious dog starts feeling comfortable with how you’re dealing with their issues; consistency is key here! In addition to what you do during the day, remember to be patient with your pup when they’re alone at night. Remember, he might be howling and barking because he’s nervous (he doesn’t know it’s 11:30 pm and you’re still working). It can take a while for an anxious dog to develop trust, but if you work hard on being positive and consistent – eventually they’ll start to come around.
9. Be Prepared To Make Adjustments As You Go Along
It’s easy to get caught up in your head when you have an anxious dog; after all, who wants to see their fuzzy friend looking so sad? If this is happening, try not to let it bother them too much – remember that there are ways to help him out. This means taking things one day at a time, making changes as you go along, and constantly working on improving his situation little by little; if you make drastic changes all at once or try something new before he’s ready, your pup could end up becoming even more anxious than before (for example, if you start training for agility competitions without teaching basic commands first).
10. Realize It Might Always Be There To Some Degree
Don’t be surprised if your dog’s anxiety sticks around forever; after all, it’s sort of like having chronic allergies – they might not be an inconvenience all the time but they’re still always present. Dogs can still learn to cope with their issues better though, which means you’ll want to be there for them in case they need your help.
11. Don’t Give Up – It’s Not Worth It!
All in all, don’t give up on your dog just because he has issues with dog anxiety or fearfulness. There are ways that you can help him feel better so reach out to the right people and work towards making his life more comfortable (you might even find yourself becoming less stressed about it too). Remember, when trying to calm an anxious dog – slow and steady wins the race!
I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided you with some helpful tips that will prove useful if you’re ever dealing with the issue of an anxious dog.
Thank you for reading! If you found this article useful, please share it on social media or online communities – it would be greatly appreciated! Also, remember to sign up for our newsletter below!