How to Calm a Dog with Anxiety
Just like humans, dogs can get stressed and anxious. Anxiety in dogs can be a result of many different things. These could include; experiences, changes to their environment or routine, or medical problems. The first step to take, if you notice any sudden changes in your dog’s behaviour, is a visit to the vet to rule out a medical problem. Having ruled out medical reasons, here is how to calm a dog suffering with anxiety.
Common signs of anxiety in dogs:
There are some common signs and symptoms that are typically seen if your dog is anxious. These may include;
- trembling or shaking
- being reluctant to take part in normal activities like walking or playing
- being more or less vocal than usual
- changes to toileting habits or eating habits
- becoming destructive
- excessive lip licking or drooling
- excessive grooming and licking
As mentioned above, any changes in behaviour can also be signs of medical conditions. Do get the opinion of a vet who can rule out any underlying health problems. Your vet may be able to refer your dog to a canine behavioural therapist or trainer to help you manage your dog’s anxiety.
Make a safe space:
It’s also important to provide your dog with a safe place to go to if they’re feeling anxious or stressed. This could be a crate, bed or kennel. Benchmark Kennels have a range of well-insulated, secure, and sheltered outdoor kennels big enough for different sized dogs to play and sleep. However, never use the kennel as a form of punishment or disturb your dog when they’re using it. Instead, keep toys, food, water, blankets, and a bed in the kennel to create a positive environment.’
Finding the root cause:
The best way to help your dog with anxiety is to establish the root cause. Spend some time listing all the possible reasons why your dog might be more anxious than usual. It can be helpful to keep a diary so that you can note down anything that might be triggering these behaviours in your dog more than usual. Consider whether;
- your dog has had to deal with any changes recently, such as a house move or the introduction of a new family member or pet, you working more or less etc?
- your dog’s lifestyle. Are they getting enough exercise? Do they have a bed in a quiet space where they can retreat to if the household is hectic?
- has anything happened you don’t know about? Speak to everybody who has access to your dog, such as groomers, dog walkers or day-care workers to see if they can shed any light on the situation.
If you can find a reason, you are then able to deal with the symptoms through training.
Helping separation anxiety:
Separation anxiety is quite common with dogs. Dogs tend to be naturally extroverted and can get bored and anxious when left alone for long periods of time. You may suspect that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety if your you notice them being very timid or over excited when your return, if they are destructive, or if they howl or bark when left alone.
To help your dog manage separation anxiety, the most important thing is to make sure that you are spending enough quality time with them and giving them enough exercise. It is important that they are able to be left alone for short periods when necessary so it is not a shock for them.
Leaving your dog alone for short periods, even if that means simply going into another room without them, can help your dog gets used to the idea that you will come back. If you need to leave your dog home alone, make sure that they have a safe and comfortable environment. Research good quality day-care and dog walkers. This can reduce the amount of time they spend on their own, offer exercise and give them a fun alternative to your company.
Visit your vet:
Anxiety is an unpleasant condition for both your dog and you as a pet parent. In some cases, prescription medication from your vet may be considered alongside canine behavioural therapy. Ask your vet to recommend a good quality and kind dog trainer or therapist to help you and your dog manage the anxiety.
The importance of nutrition:
Your dog’s diet can have an effect on their behaviour as good health starts in the gut. Consider what you are feeding your dog. Have you recently changed their diet? Sometimes, switching to a product that has a different nutritional balance can alter serotonin levels, blood sugar, and the rate of energy release. It may be worth switching your dog back to their previous food to see whether or not the behaviour goes back to normal.
Irregular food intake can cause blood sugar fluctuations. This can lead to anxious behaviours so consider regular feeding times. A diet that is balanced in nutrients is essential to keep your dog mentally healthy. Research a good quality dog food, whether it be dry or raw. For raw feeding, Bella & Duke’s raw food meals are a good choice. They are also useful for owners short of time or freezer space. You can access to dog nutritionist through them too who can offer good advice on how To Calm A Dog Down if they are anxious or scared.
Consider natural remedies to calm your dog:
There are several natural remedies on the market that are designed to help an anxious dog feel calmer. Adaptil tablets, Kalm Aid, and Bach Rescue Remedy for pets are just some of the most popular options that pet parents use when their dog is suffering from anxiety.
Some owners report positive results from using a Thunder Shirt. They offer a natural way to help your dog calm down by applying constant, gentle pressure to their torso. This can have an instantly calming effect. They are very popular for dogs who tend to get very anxious around fireworks or loud noises. Training to build your dog’s confidence is key to overcoming their anxiety.
Keep stress to a minimum:
One of the best things that you can do to help your dog is to stay calm yourself and try to keep any unnecessary stress out of their lives. Sometimes, you have no control over stressful situations like fireworks in your area or thunderstorms, but if you know that these things are likely to happen prepare for them.
Remember that our dogs tend to look to us for guidance and they can easily pick up on how their humans feel. Staying calm yourself in these situations will help your dog feel more confident. Reward your dog with praise, treats, and attention when they display calm, confident behaviour. Never tell your dog off for being fearful. This will simply make their anxiety worse.
How to calm your dog:
Dogs can become anxious for a wide range of reasons. It is never a nice thing for pets and their parents to go through. Thankfully there are several things that you can do to help your dog feel calmer once again. Let us know the ways in which you calm your dog in the comments below.
More of our dog friendly living posts here.