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Dealing with dog anxiety? Barking, destructive tendencies, obsessive-compulsive chewing, 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 Dog Anxiety
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 may also help soothe a dog’s anxiety.
The ThunderShirt is a popular option for pet owners. The shirt uses gentle, constant pressure to calm dogs, similar to swaddling a baby (though the dog can move, of course).
With tons of variety and designs, you’re bound to find the perfect crate for your dog. Crate training is a must, of course, before you implement the crate with your dog.
Explore more dog crate options and styles here.
These chews will give your anxious dog something to focus on. Just be careful; bully sticks, bones, and other types of chew toys can sometimes fragment, so aren’t the best to give without supervision. Safer options include naturally-shed antler chews or a Kong with frozen peanut butter.
Some pet parents swear by Adaptil and other pheromone-based treatments; others say results are mixed. Collars, treats, and other pheromone products release pheromones that produce calming effects and reduce feelings of stress and fear.
Training for Anxious Dogs
Make sure the crate is a sanctuary and safe place for your pet by giving them the proper crate training. These expert tips will help.
Scolding an anxious dog can just make the problem worse, so use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage dogs to replicate desired behaviors and stay calm.
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 series of articles is a great jumping-off place for understanding separation anxiety and how to help lessen its effects.
Home Remedies for Anxious Dogs
Check Your Stress Level
Dogs are sensitive creatures and your anxiety can increase their anxiety. Try relaxation techniques to decompress and find your own inner calm. Anxiety is a complicated issue, of course, and often requires longer-term interventions to address the root causes. Life is stressful, after all! Even so, taking a few deep breaths before greeting your dog is one simple way to help them feel calmer, too.
A tired dog is a happy dog. Plus, 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 lover in your neighborhood.
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 start slowly, and check in with your dog periodically to be sure they’re still enjoying it.
Medication for Anxious Dogs
Trazodone for dogs? Xanax for 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. After that, you can buy medications directly from your vet or online.
Alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), clomipramine (Clomicalm), and amitriptyline (Elavil) are common prescription medications used to treat anxiety in dogs. Trazodone is a common prescription, too, though it’s primarily indicated for use in humans and veterinary use is considered extra-label. Medications like these are usually only for occasional needs rather than daily use (such as the night of a fireworks’ display).
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 with dog-safe essential oils and proper use, could be helpful to your dog.
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.
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. In addition to treats formulated with CBD, Canna-Pet is one popular brand. It’s also possible to buy CBD oil for your pets.
As always, consult with your vet before giving a new supplement or medication. Keep in mind that because of laws that vary state by state and lack of formal research, many veterinarians will not take a stance on CBD for pets. A holistic vet is more likely to have expertise in the area.
Every dog is a little bit different, which is why pet care that’s personalized just for your dog 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 and pet sitters 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, pet sitting, and more. After all, exercise and attention are an anxious dog’s best friend.
For more about dog anxiety, continue your research with one of the links below.