If you have ever experienced anxiety, you certainly can relate to how debilitating it can feel at times. Anxiety and nervousness can be experienced to varying degrees in humans, and it is much the same in dogs.
If you have a dog that is suffering from anxiety, it may be difficult to know how to calm him or her down.
Anxiety in dogs can show its face in many different behaviors, such as barking, whining or shivering. Other anxious dogs may display destructive or disruptive behavior.
If anxiety persists, some dogs lose their appetite or may act reclusive, withdrawing themselves from the rest of the family.
Common Causes of Anxiety in Dogs
One of the most common reasons for dogs to become overly anxious is because they have developed separation anxiety. This happens when dogs become upset that their owners leave them at home alone.
Sometimes these dogs can feel when their owners are about to leave and that is when their distress begins. After the doggie mom or dad leaves, the dog may begin to bark frantically.
In serious cases of separation anxiety, dogs try their best to escape through windows and doors.
Another reason why dogs may experience anxiety is because of loud noises. This is why more dogs run away from home on July 4th than any other day of the year.
The sound of fireworks exploding sends many dogs into a running frenzy. Thunder is another culprit that can make a dog feel anxious.
Previous traumatic experiences are another possible cause of anxiety in dogs. Also, pets that have had to spend too much time in a shelter may have bad memories from their time there, and their feeling of abandonment.
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If your dog is showing signs of anxiety, you need to be able to rule out a possible illness. When fearful reactions are coupled with physical symptoms:
- Hypothyroidism: Symptoms include weight gain, hair loss or inactivity
- Graves Disease: Obesity, intolerance to cold, increased shedding, lethargy
- Encephalitis: Brain inflammation and swelling that causes anxiety, aggressive behavior. Can lead to a coma.
- Vision or hearing loss. Dogs who are impaired in one of their senses may frighten easily.
Because the cause of anxiety can be a potential illness, it is wise to take your pet to the veterinarian to rule out this possibility.
Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog
#1: Exercise Your Dog
Having anxiety can cause your dog to display an excess amount of energy, and not have an outlet for it. Exercise is the perfect way to release this pent-up energy.
Exercise helps your dog to relieve stress by producing endorphins, which has a natural calming effect on your dog. Try taking your dog out for a long walk, or playing ball with him perhaps.
Just showing your dog attention by spending time with him in this way is sure to be helpful.
#2: The Power of Touch
Your anxious dog needs physical contact. Sitting near him or her and gently petting your dog may do wonders to calm them down.
If your dog is small, pick him up and cuddle him. Show your dog how much you love him through the power of touch.
Also Read: How to Housetrain any Dog in just 21 days?
#3: Massage Your Dog
Along the same lines as what we just mentioned, massage can be a great way to relieve anxiety in your dog.
According to Modern Dog Magazine, when you massage your dog, his blood pressure lowers and stress levels are reduced. To relax your nervous dog, begin by lightly resting the flat palm of your hand on top of your dog’s head.
Next, in a slow motion, swoop down the spine and down the tail, several times. Keep the other hand on your dog at all times.
#4: Play Soothing Music
Playing soft and soothing music for your dog is one of the easiest ways that you can help him to feel better. Studies have shown that when certain types of music are played for dogs, their respiratory rates are lowered, they bark less and it even lowers the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in their bodies.
Truly a form of therapy, playing soothing music for your dog works wonders as a natural anti-anxiety remedy. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, why not try playing some nice background music for your dog while you are away?
#5: Isolate Them in a Quiet Space
It may help your anxious dog to isolate them if they are displaying destructive behaviors. You aren’t really punishing them for being anxious, you are simply removing them from an environment that may be the cause of their nervousness.
If you have a crate for your dog, you can place your dog inside it, within a quiet room of your house. Try dimming the lights and playing some very quiet music, as mentioned above.
#6: Try a ThunderShirt
Have you ever heard of the ThunderShirt? Basically, it is a compression garment, which provides gentle pressure to your dog’s body.
When your dog wears the ThunderShirt, it feels very similar to what it feels like to a baby when you swaddle them.
No matter if your dog’s anxiety is caused by loud noises (such as thunder or fireworks) or any other reason, wearing it can provide significant relief.
#7 Explore Alternative Therapies
There are several different products on the market that you can try to relieve your dog’s anxiety. Before trying any of them, it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian first.
Also Read: How to Train a Dog to Heel while Walking
Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets:
Made completely from plants and flowers, Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets is a homeopathic remedy that is completely safe to give to your dog. You simply add 2-4 drops into their water bowl.
Supplementation with Dog Treats:
There are specific ingredients that are known to be helpful to calm dogs, and they are commonly added to dog treats. These special ingredients include chamomile, thiamin, L-tryptophan or L-Theanine.
Adaptil Home Diffuser:
This is a unit that you plug in, which emanates doggie pheromones. These pheromones are basically “odorless messages” that are only perceived by dogs. These pheromones work to relax and comfort your nervous dog, in a natural way.
Identifying the source of your dog’s anxiety is the first step in getting him help. Trying the recommended tips are a good place to start, however it is always a good idea to seek professional advice from your trusted veterinarian.
Being able to rule out any physical illness is an important step in getting your dog into a more calm and relaxed state of mind.