It’s hard enough managing our own anxieties, but if you’re a dog owner with an anxious dog, then your stress level is going to go into overdrive trying to care for their frayed feelings as well as your own. Your words of “calm down girl” may not be enough to solve the problem.
But why do dogs get anxious?
There could be any number of reasons. If you’re prone to anxiety, then your dog may be following suit, their sensitive behaviour in tune with how you are feeling. On the other hand, there are other reasons why a dog can suffer anxiety. Being separated from you for a long time can make then fret. Unfamiliar surroundings can cause them fear. And such things as fireworks, thunderstorms, and car travel can also exacerbate the anxiety symptoms your dog might display. These symptoms include excessive grooming, continual whining and barking, and aggressive behaviour that can lead to household damage and dog bites. As you would look for ways to deal with your anxiety problems, you should also look for ways to help your poor dog.
How to care for your anxious dog
1. Avoid stressors. Try to reduce the number of situations that are going to cause your dog anxiety. While you can’t avoid every situation – you can’t control the thunderstorms for one – you should still take the time to understand why your dog is afraid, and if you can do something about the situation, then do so. If you know you are going to be out for much of the day, for example, ask somebody to pop in to see pooch occasionally, reducing the amount of time they are waiting for you alone. The more stressors that can be reduced, the happier your dog will be.
2. Desensitize your dog. By learning a few desensitization techniques, you can calm your dog down, no matter the situation, and help them to learn alternative behaviours in place of those that are brought about by stress. While it will take time and patience for both you and your dog to learn these techniques, you will both benefit in the long-term when those everyday stressors no longer have a hold on pooches life.
3. Create a calm environment. When possible, stay calm around your dog, remembering that your pooch can pick up how you are feeling. Talk to them in a reassuring tone of voice, and show them gentle affection with patting and hugging. If you are feeling anxious yourself, it may be that time with your dog will calm you down anyway! You should also adhere to a fixed schedule, as any change or disruption can create stress for your dog. Even when your life is busy, still make time to feed and walk your dog as you normally would, to reduce any stress they may otherwise feel. And then purchase calming items for your home, from anxiety relief dog beds to Bluetooth speakers preloaded with calming dog music, to further add calm to your dog’s environment.
4. Consider medication. For starters, don’t give your dog any medication that you take for yourself. They could be harmful to your pet, causing illness or a fatality. Speak to your vet, and take heed of any advice they give. There are a number of pet medications that can be prescribed and they can offer short-term relief for your nervous dog. On the other hand, you might also consider a natural treatment. Considering some medications have unwanted side-effects, you may want to try something like CBD Oil for pets instead. In any case, seek advice from your vet beforehand, to better preserve the health of your dog.
If your dog is prone to anxiety, try using one (or more) of our suggestions to help calm them down. Then seek help from canine professionals – behaviourists, vets – for further, qualified advice. And if you have found an alternative way to calm down your dogs, then please let us know, for the sake of all the nervous pet owners (and their dogs) looking for a calming solution.