Soothe and calm your anxious dog with these tried and tested methods.
We all want the best for our dogs, and watching them feel anxious or nervous is never nice. So we’ve listed out top 7 ways to calm an anxious dog, to help them feel relaxed and confident again.
Whether it’s thunderstorms, travelling or struggling with separation, anxiety is a common issue lots of pups face. It’s especially common in rescue dogs, who may have been abandoned or treated poorly in their past life.
So what are the common dog anxiety symptoms, the signs we can look out for?
Unable to settle, pacing or panting excessively
Barking or howling
Excessive vocalization when left alone
Hiding or cowering
Escaping or trying to run away
Chewing or destroying items or furniture
Excessive licking or chewing, resulting in sores
A lack of appetite
Urinating more frequently than normal
Luckily, there are a number of things pup parents can do to work towards reducing anxiety in our dogs. Here are 7 ways to calm an anxious dog and get that tail wagging again.
Exercise has shown to be effective in reducing the outward signs of anxiety in both humans and dogs! Letting off excess steam can help both you and your dog be more at ease. Have a good run around with your dog to relieve stress, producing beneficial endorphins to release the feel good factor.
A massage is the ultimate relaxing experience and has been shown to lower cortisol in humans by up to 30%. And it can be just as beneficial for your dog too. Anxiety often causes excessive tensing of the muscles, so relieving this can help your dog to relax. Try an Epsom salt soak from our Spa Day guide, followed by a head and shoulder massage for your dog. Start at the head, moving in gentle circular motions, before moving down to the neck and shoulders. Just having your hands on your dog can be very reassuring for them, showing you are there to take care of them.
Research has found that music can be beneficial to helping dogs chill out, just like us! One study found that kenneled dogs spent more time sleeping and less time vocalizing when classical music was playing. As well as having a soothing effect, music can also alleviate any noise sensitivity by blocking scary noises.
4. Jackets Or Vests
New anxiety products are joining the market, most notably calming coats, vests or jackets. These handy accessories apply mild, constant pressure to a dog’s torso. One brand, Thundershirt, conducted a survey with 2000 customers. They found that over 80% of dogs showed improvement in symptoms when using the jacket.
5. Natural Remedies
While there is limited evidence to support natural remedies, many owners find anecdotal success with more holistic approaches to anxiety.
Companies like Rescue Remedy for Pets offer homeopathic balms with soothing essential oils. Adding 2-4 drops directly to their drinking water, or spray onto toys and bedding to offer a calming atmosphere.
Adaptil have a home home diffuser that uses pheromones similar to what a nursing mother would give off to her puppies. Easy to use, simply plugging into the wall, it is often recommended by dog trainers for anxious pups.
For small puppies, Adaptil also supplies a lightweight collar that can be worn until the age of 6 months, which can help separation anxiety and the puppy “fear phase”.
Some prepared dog foods are specially formulated to have a calming effect for your pup. Overly-processed dog foods can contain high levels of sugar, carbohydrates, preservatives and artificial colouring, which could cause spikes in energy.
By focusing on a wholefood-based dog food, with ingredients like hydrolyzed casein and L-tryptophan that can have a soothing effect, you may see an improvement in your dog’s nervousness.
Often the easiest way to soothe a dog is to work towards the root of the problem. Often behavioural, anxiety can be treated with some training modifications and a science-based approach to alleviating phobias. Try our anxiety training guide, and work towards building your dog’s confidence.
If you find that the above treatments don’t seem to help, or you feel your dog needs more urgent help, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. They may be able to offer some anxiety medication or medical advice that could be beneficial.
However you find it, we hope your pup makes their way back to a calm afternoon nap on the sofa in no time. If you try any of these approaches, let us know how you get on! We’d love to hear from you.
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