Dog anxiety is more common than many pet parents realize. It can be hard to detect in some fur babies because the symptoms aren’t obvious, or do not present themselves often enough. It’s almost safe to say that most dogs will suffer from some level of anxiety.
Knowing this, you must be anxious yourself, wanting to know how to help your dog alleviate anxiety or to cope with it. We have found 5 proven ways that can help.
5 Best Ways to Bring Relief to an Anxious Dog1. Training
While feelings of anxiety might not be completely curbed, nor does it really need to be (dogs should be allowed to feel anxious in the face of something uncomfortable), sensitivity to harmless triggers or fear of something such as taking a shower can all be improved with some training.
While your dog may not suddenly love bath time, he may be able to accept it more easily after plenty of patience, more exposure to water, and lots of positive reinforcement.
Separation anxiety is a form of anxiety that can range from mild to severe. This type of anxiety could require professional assistance if it's more serious. Dogs could potentially injure themselves in their attempt to dart after the owner. If you suspect your dog is suffering from crippling separation anxiety, do not hesitate to contact an animal behaviorist or pro trainer.
Aside from training, make sure your dog is getting appropriate nutrients from his diet. For example, large-breed puppies should have large-breed puppy food.2. Comfort from You
We’re generalizing here, but there are instances when physical contact and reassurance from you when your dog is acting anxious isn't the best way to solve it. For example, if you’re crate training and your pooch is getting anxious being in the enclosed space, trainers usually suggest ignoring the behavior. Ignoring will teach your dog that silence will get what he wants rather than crying.
However, physical contact and reassurance from the dog’s beloved owner are highly recommended in instances of fear and anxiety from external stimulation. For example, if your dog is feeling anxious because there is a thunderstorm outside, then you can more than cradle him in your arms and let him know everything will be okay.3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Putting your dog on a time-out or removing him from whatever is aggravating his anxiety is another way to calm an anxious dog. We say time-out, not in the sense of a form of punishment, but rather a time of quiet and peace, away from whatever is setting off your dog.
Other than removing your dog from the stimulation, it’s also a good idea to create a calming environment as well. Let’s say your dog is feeling anxious from seeing strangers on your property, then take your dog to a quiet room far away from the windows and hopefully, somewhere he can’t hear them either.
There are some other steps you can take to create an ideal calming environment, which we will cover in a bit.4. Pressure Wraps and Weighted Blankets
You can’t always be there to comfort your dog, but you can simulate the same kind of reassurance with something other than your touch. The answer is pressure wraps, such as the famed Thundershirts, and weighted blankets. The weight of these accessories can be likened to a hug, which gives reassurance and calming effects.
You can also find these things available for humans as well for the same purpose. It could work for your dog, but there is also a chance that it won’t. While you’re testing out the efficacy of these items, we would suggest keeping an eye on your dog. If it’s for separation anxiety, you can monitor your dog on a doggy cam if you’re not at home.
We strongly recommend keeping an eye on your dog because his anxiety may be so overwhelming that he tries to destroy the weighted blanket or pressure wrap instead of letting it calm his nerves. If any bits are ingested, they could cause a blockage in the stomach and intestines.
5. Alternative Therapies and Supplements
There are calming agents, therapies, and supplements that you can turn to if all else fails.
Music and Sounds
Music therapy is a great solution for dog anxiety. Again, you have to experiment to see if it works on your fur baby, and even spend time finding the right type of music or sound. Veterinary researchers have put in some time to find acoustical therapies that work well for dogs.
General research shows that most dogs prefer instrumentals such as classical music, and anything relaxing such as harp music as well. For other dogs, white noise in the form of raindrops or waves crashing against the rocks can work just as well.
Essential calming oils with diffusers often work well. Aromatherapy with pheromones or calming scents such as lavender works very well for some dogs. Don’t worry, if you don’t like to have potent scents in your home, you can opt for the pheromone option, which is undetectable to our noses.
Keep the diffuser in a place where your dog spends the most time or in a room with his crate when you’re not at home. Instead of a diffuser, you can also choose calming collars that emit the scent.
This also falls under the number 2 item on our list, but we placed it within the alternative therapy section. You can pet and cradle your dog, or give him a massage focusing on his head, behind his ears, and his neck for the same reassuring and calming effect.
Using supplements is a more controversial method, but one that has a very high chance of working. These supplements are used for dogs with general anxiety of more severe levels and travel anxiety. There is a mix of melatonin with other substances such as L-Theanine that work together to relax your dog.
Some pet parents also suggest CBD oil as a calming agent with very desirable effects. Before introducing anything new to your dog, we would highly suggest consulting with a trusted veterinarian first.
As heartbreaking as it is to witness your dog suffer from anxiety, you can rest assured knowing there are solutions to the problem. It’s true that some will work better than others, so it’s a pet owner’s job to experiment and test each method to find one that works the best.