If you think your dog may be suffering from anxiety, it’s important to know the symptoms so you can properly identify if your pet needs help. Some signs to look for include a change in eating habits, excessive urination and defecating, destructive behavior, and more. Symptoms of anxiety vary from dog to dog and are often situational and based on personality.
1. Pet Your Dog
Petting your dog is one of the most effective ways to calm your anxious dog. It stimulates the release of Oxytocin, a hormone that helps with relaxation and bonding. But it’s important to be careful with how you pet your dog. Some petting styles can trigger anxiety in dogs and make them feel uncomfortable or even scared. During petting, keep your body language low and avoid using high-pitched or rapid voice. You don’t want to scare your dog or make them think they are being harmed.
2. Change Your Environment
When your dog is feeling anxious, their environment can play a big role in their mood. Whether they’re feeling nervous about a trip to the vet, going for a walk in the city, or even just being left alone in the house, they need to feel safe and comfortable. This means keeping your dog in a familiar, safe place like the same spot you use when they’re calm or playing with their toys. Create a safe space by putting out their blanket, dog bed, food, and water bowls, or even a favorite toy that they love to play with.
3. Play With Your Dog
Playing with your dog is one of the best ways to bond with them and help alleviate anxiety. It also encourages them to burn off their energy and keep them mentally engaged. Many dogs enjoy games that require them to use their noses to follow scent trails, search for hidden treats or toys, or chase balls and other objects. They may also enjoy playing ‘hide and seek’ outside with you. If your dog is hyperactive and needs to relax, try a game of fetch. Every time they return the ball to you, smile and praise them for their efforts.
4. Give Your Dog A Treat
Many dogs with anxiety find that they calm down if they’re given something that they enjoy. Food dispensing toys are another great way to calm your dog when they’re anxious, especially if it doesles out some tasty, high-value snacks like kibble, canned food, or raw bones. However, these toys should be removed as soon as your dog is alone to prevent them from getting access to foods that aren’t as healthy for them.
5. Give Your Dog A Toy
If your dog is prone to anxiety and separation-related stress, giving them a toy can be a big help. There are toys that engage all five senses and are designed to de-stress your pet. The right toy can also provide mental enrichment for your pup and stimulate their intellectual abilities. Puzzle-type toys are good for dogs who need stimulation (like herding and sledding breeds). There are also many commercially available chews made specifically for dogs that contain calming pheromones and herbs to relieve stress. These can be especially helpful for pets with more severe cases of anxiety, since the calming effects of these products will last for a long time after your dog has stopped using them.
6. Get Some Music
Music is a natural way to calm your dog. It can reduce stress and help ease anxiety, behavioral issues, and pain. Choosing the right type of music can also be beneficial for your pet’s emotional and mental health. Several genres have been shown to have calming effects on animals, including classical, jazz, and reggae. The beat of these genres is slower, which makes them easier for dogs to relax to than songs with a faster beat like rock or rap. It’s important to play these genres at a low volume for short periods of time.
7. Talk To Your Veterinarian
Talking to your veterinarian about your dog’s anxiety will help you both understand what is causing it and develop an effective plan for calming him down. In addition, your vet will be able to help you identify any underlying medical issues and recommend the best treatment options. While many pet owners seek advice from friends, family, neighbors and breeders, veterinarians have an extensive education and well-rounded experience that can give you the best possible care for your furry friend. When selecting a veterinarian, choose someone who will treat your pet with respect and courtesy, and be easy to communicate with.