Dealing with dog anxiety? Barking, destructive tendencies, obsessive compulsive disorders, going potty indoors—these behaviors can quickly make you crazy, and aren’t fun for your pup, either. Since it’s not practical to spend all of your time soothing your high-strung canine, we’ve rounded up some techniques, remedies, and secret weapons (!) to help your anxious dog.
Gear and Toys for Anxious Dogs
Luckily, there’s a plethora of toys and gear specifically created with dog anxiety issues in mind. Overall, harness the power of distraction, and give them a comfy, dog-designated area while you’re gone. These selections are key to soothing a dog’s anxiety and lowering the chance of your dog exhibiting distress behaviors.
The Thunder shirt is a popular option for pet owners. The shirt uses gentle, constant pressure to calm dogs, similar to swaddling a baby (except they can move of course)
2. Puzzle Toys
Perfect for keeping pups occupied while you’re out and during the process of leaving, which can be the most stressful part for dogs. The tricky treat ball is a particular favorite.
These chews will give your anxious dog something to focus on. Naturally-shed antler chews or a KONG with frozen peanut butter always work wonders.
4. Comfy Bed
Nothing relaxes a dog like a comfortable place to rest their head. Extra points for supportive memory foam that’s easy on the joints.
5. Dog Crate
With tons of variety and designs, you’re bound to find the perfect crate for your family. Training is a must, of course, before you implement the crate with your dog.
Some pet parents swear by Adaptil and other pheromone based treatments; others say results are mixed. These collars and diffusers release pheromones that produces calming effects that help relax dogs and reduce their feelings of stress and fear.
Training for Anxious Dogs
There are a variety of techniques to explore when it comes to training and socializing your pet. Do some research and find the style you like best, and check out some of your local dog trainers for help. Here are just a few options that can be useful when living with an anxious canine.
Make sure the crate is a sanctuary and safe place for your pet by giving them the proper crate training. We have some tips and tricks that should help.
Scolding an anxious dog can just make the problem worse, so try using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage dogs with treats, cuddles and upbeat words. Here are just a few tips!
Socializing your dog early on can help them be more relaxed in group settings, like an in-home daycare. It’s also a fun opportunity for them to play and use pent-up energy that can lead to anxiety.
Separation anxiety is fairly common, and you can help. This handy guide is a good starting place for specifics.
Home Remedies for Anxious Dogs
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 relaxing effect for dogs with noise anxiety.
Check Your Stress Level
Dogs are sensitive creatures and your anxiety can increase their anxiety. Try yoga or other relaxation techniques to decompress and find your own inner calm.
A tired dog is a happy dog. Plus, exercise releases serotonin, a feel-good chemical that we humans also get when we work out.
Give Your Dog a Massage
Giving your dog a ten-minute massage every day can help relax your four-legged friend, and is a great way to bond. There are many different techniques you can try. Just remember to be gentle and make sure your pet enjoys it.
Medication for Anxious Dogs
Alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), clomipramine (Clomicalm), amitriptyline (Elavil) are common prescription medications used to treat anxiety in dogs. Some pets can greatly benefit from treatment with medication, but you must contact your vet for a consultation, and always get a legitimate prescription.
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is an over-the-counter product well-tolerated by dogs, and can have a mild sedative effect. Be sure to check with your vet for dosage recommendations.
Does doggie aromatherapy treatment sound a little ridiculous to you? Well, it’s been shown to have some serious benefits, and we have a whole post about it here that’ll help you smell your way to the best option for your dog.
Dogs suffering from anxiety are often helped by Bach Rescue Remedy for pets. Made with herbal extracts, it’s alcohol-free. Of course, you should always consult your vet before giving your dog something new.
Look for products that include calming ingredients like oats, skullcap, and echinacea. Valerian is also effective in treating excitability and dog anxiety and can generally be given orally to a pup. Again, talk to your vet for more info.
Increasing numbers of pet parents swear by pet-safe cannabis-derived treats that have a calming effect without the compound THC. You can read more about marijuana for dogs here, and about one owner’s experience with CBD treats here. Treatibles are one popular brand.
It’s also possible to buy CBD oil for your pets. As always, it’s a good idea to consult with your vet before giving a new supplement or medication.
Every dog is a little bit different, which is why pet care that’s personalized just for your pup is such a fantastic idea, especially if your dog has an issue with anxiety. Many anxious dogs won’t respond as well to being dropped off at a kennel, or dealing with a large-group daycare or dog-walking situation. Luckily you have options!
Rover.com has plenty of responsible, qualified, animal-loving dog walkers waiting to take your dog under their wing. And once you (and your pet) have built a relationship with a walker or sitter, you’ll have someone else your dog trusts who can provide drop-in visits, petsitting, and more. After all, exercise and attention are an anxious dog’s best friend.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
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