Non-stop barking, obsessive-compulsive chewing, destructive behaviours, going to the bathroom inside the home—these tendencies are signs of a distressed dog that may be suffering from anxiety. From pet gear to training to massage, there are many ways to reduce your dog’s anxiety, and alleviate your stress in doing so.
What causes anxiety in dogs?
Dogs can experience anxiety for a number of reasons. It’s important to take into consideration your dog’s history and their own communication style. Look for behaviours that are triggered by specific events such as meeting other animals, loud noises (like fireworks or thunder), or being left alone. Anxiety in dogs can be a result of past abuse and abandonment, a traumatic experience that caused danger or harm to the animal, or it can stem from medical problems.
- Separation Anxiety Training. Separation anxiety is fairly common, and you can help. Rover has put together a handy series of articles to help pet owners understand separation anxiety and how to reduce negative behaviours that can occur with anxiety.
- Positive Reinforcement. Punishing an anxious dog can often worsen the problem, so try using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage your dog to replicate desired behaviours while staying calm.
- Socialization. Socializing your dog early on can help them become more relaxed in group settings- with humans and other animals. It’s also a fun opportunity for them to play and use pent-up energy that can lead to anxiety.
Home remedies for anxiety
- Massage. A quick 5-10 minute massage each day can calm your pup and is a good way to bond with your dog. There are several techniques you can try to find what you and your dog enjoy most. Be gentle and start slowly, and pay attention to how your dog is responding to your touch.
- Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! Exercise releases serotonin, a feel-good chemical that we humans also get when we work out. With Rover, you can schedule extra walks or playtime with a dog walker or sitter near you.
- White Noise. Use a fan, white noise machine, or radio to distract your dog from startling noises. Try playing classical music—it’s known to have a calming effect on dogs with noise anxiety.
- Check Your Stress Level. Dogs are sensitive creatures that can detect and mirror our anxiety. Try relaxation techniques to decompress and find your own inner calm. Taking a few deep breaths before you greet your dog is one simple way to help them feel calmer, too.
Products to help soothe anxiety
From CBD oil to pet wearables, there are a number of products that can help soothe your anxious pup. You can also harness the power of distraction with puzzle toys, or give your pet a comfortable, dog-designated area where they feel secure, especially while you’re away. A crate can be a great sanctuary for your dog, and crate training will help your dog associate the crate with safety while giving them a space they can retreat to in stressful moments.
Medication may offer great relief for dogs that suffer from anxiety. If you are considering medication, it’s crucial that you speak to your vet to discuss treatment options and obtain a legitimate prescription.
If a more natural approach is your preference, here are a few treatment options to consider:
- CBD Treats or CBD Oil. A growing number of pet owners recommend pet-safe cannabis-derived products that have a relaxing effect without the THC. You can speak with your vet about how CBD treatment works and browse online for CBD treats or oil sold specifically for dogs.
- Aromatherapy. Does doggie aromatherapy treatment sound a little ridiculous to you? Well, it’s been shown to have some serious benefits, and with dog-safe essential oils and proper use, could be helpful to your dog.
- Herbal Supplements. Look for products that include calming ingredients like oats, skullcap, and echinacea. Valerian is also reported to be effective in treating excitability and dog anxiety and can generally be given orally to a pup. Again, talk to your vet for more info and recommendations.
Finding a trusted caretaker
Dogs that experience anxiety may not respond well to being dropped off at a kennel or staying with a large-group daycare. Luckily you have options! Rover has plenty of responsible, qualified, animal-loving dog walkers and pet sitters available to care for your pup. Once you’ve built a relationship with a walker or sitter, you’ll have someone your dog trusts who can drop-in for care visits, dog walking, or overnight boarding. Every dog needs attention and exercise, and those that experience anxiety can benefit greatly from both.
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