Let’s have a comprehensive look at how to calm your anxious dog
Anxiety in dogs is one of those problems that can suddenly start up with no real obvious signs.
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If you want to know how to calm an anxious dog you need to learn more about how a dog becomes stressed. By taking this approach, you will find that you can help your dog “unwind” so it does not feel afraid or nervous. Learning what triggers anxiety will make you a better owner and will help you develop a better rapport with your dog.
Dogs exhibit behavioral problems when they feel stressed. To decrease the anxiety in dogs, you need to review the behavior and find out what is causing your dog to act irrationally. Some canines may react by exhibiting signs of separation anxiety while other dogs may show aggression.
To decrease anxiety in dogs, you need to keep them occupied, whether mentally or physically. Dogs are social creatures that need social interaction and engagement. They also need to stay active so they do not become bored. When you distract your dog to the point he remains calm, you know that you have succeeded in lowering the amount of stress in his life.
How to Help Your Pet
To make sure your canine friend feels calmer, you need to practice the following measures.
Provide Your Dog with Regular Exercise
Make sure your dog receives regular exercise so he feels more at ease. You can decrease stress in dogs by taking them along on a walk, playing with them, or taking them to a nearby dog park. Dogs also benefit from swimming or running along while you are cycling. When you relieve your dog’s daily stress, you also give him the gift of a much longer life.
Provide a Form of Mental Stimulation
When you stimulate your canine friend mentally, it can be just as good for him as physical exercise. Again, a dog can become stressed when he is bored, which causes him to act out. To combat this problem, you need to provide him with an array of toys, or items that entice him to work toward receiving a reward or a special treat.
Train Your Pup in a Crate
When your dog is young, you should train him in a crate – a place where he will feel safe. If you want to safely transport your pet and decrease anxiety in dogs, this is the way to do it. Just like a den for a wolf, the crate represents a place where a dog or puppy feels cozy and safe. This form of transport can be made a safe place for your dog while he is traveling.
While it may sound far-fetched, yoga for canines can actually reduce doggy stress. This practice, also known as dog ya, is gaining a lot of popularity. Both canines and their owners practice yoga together, which also builds a better bond between an owner and his or her dog. Calming poses are practiced along with gentle massages and stretching methods. Both the owner and his dog will feel a lot better after the conclusion of class.
Give Your Dog a Security Blanket
If you want to decrease anxiety in dogs, it helps to give them a blanket – a flannel blanket that will warm them and make them feel more secure in the world. Add a stuffed toy or a special treat to show that they are loved and that they are a special friend. Use a blanket that already holds your scent to reassure your loyal and valued friend.
Your pet will feel less stressed, as well, if you add background noise, such as a classical music tune to calm him. Doing so will provide a type of atmosphere that is not only calming but soothing. This type of introduction will give your pet reassurance while you are away. You may also think about leaving on the TV to provide companionship for your pet.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Pets pick up on emotions — especially their owner’s emotions — when they are feeling distressed. Therefore, it is important to maintain a positive attitude around your pet. If he feels that you are sad or angry, he will also pick up on your mood and become stressed. To decrease anxiety in dogs, you need to keep this in mind. Never give your pet a treat if you are feeling upset, lest he thinks he is getting rewarded for your behavior. Make sure you first calm your own emotions and overcome your own upset.
Desensitize Your Dog to the Reason for the Stress
To decrease anxiety in dogs, you also need to stop the trigger for the stress. For instance, maybe your dog reacts badly each time he is introduced to other dogs his own size. If you notice this happening, you should avoid the practice. Instead, introduce your animal to dogs that are smaller or smaller-sized, less intimidating pets. This should be done in a controlled and closed environment.
9. Place Your Dog on Your Lap
If your dog is smaller, you may want to place him on your lap to relieve his stress. Again, dogs are social animals and feel more secure when they know that you are actively engaging with them. Just sitting on your lap will reassure him that you are there – comforting him. If your dog is bigger, you may think about giving him a blanket and wrapping him in it. A blanket serves as a sort of cocoon that will make him feel a lot less stressed.
Do Not Give Your Dog Sedatives
Never give your dog medications to reduce his anxiety. Instead, find more natural and safer alternatives. Check with your veterinarian for the answer. Some dogs suffer from panic attacks during events, such as thunderstorms or when fireworks are going off. You need to be ready to comfort him during these activities. If a pet is given medications during these times, he may become disoriented – something you do not want to happen. If a pet becomes disoriented, it may lead to a health problem or a potential injury.
Calming an anxious dog
Instead of resorting to sedatives, it is more important to learn to bond with your pet and make him feel more at ease. After all, you probably consider him a best friend. Do not give him anything that may make him feel confused or put him in more danger.
Now that you know what you can do to alleviate some of the stress in your canine’s life, you need to learn more about some of the symptoms that are associated with canine stress. Dog owners do not realize that stress is a common issue in dogs today. That is because dogs are exposed to some of the same stress that affects their owners. Therefore, they may suffer in the same way.
Recognized Symptoms of an anxious dog
Some of the symptoms that are related to doggy anxiety include the following:
- Diarrhea, Constipation, or Another Digestive Problem
If your dog has problems with constipation, diarrhea, or stomach upset, he may be suffering the symptoms as the result of anxiety. If the stomach upset lasts longer than 24 hours, you need to speak with your vet and obtain a consultation. If you see vomit or blood in your dog’s stool, it may be indicative of a food-borne sickness.
- A Lack of Appetite
Just like humans who are nervous, dogs with stress disorders often have a problem with eating. If your dog is not eating his food or loses interest in consuming treats, you need to contact your veterinarian about the behavior. While stress may be the culprit, he may also be experiencing an underlying health problem. Even dogs can suffer from anorexia, which can lead to a drastic loss of weight. Any time you notice that your dog is not eating properly, you need to contact a veterinarian right away.
- Isolating Himself
Sometimes, pets will isolate themselves from others, especially if they are feeling anxious. If your dog exhibits this behavior, it is a warning that he feels anxious or is sick. Dogs are social animals. Therefore, any form of isolation should be investigated further.
- Additional Sleeping
If a dog regularly sleeps through the night but also wants to sleep at other times, he may be anxious, injured, or sick. Other conditions that contribute to lengthy sleeping include heart or liver disorders, diabetes, diarrhea, tumors, or hypothyroidism. Anemia, poisoning, or dehydration can also lead to lethargy.
- Increased Aggression
A dog that feels stressed or nervous may show aggression toward other dogs or people. This is a sure sign that your dog is either anxious or sick. Dogs normally like to show a friendly demeanor. Therefore, this diversion from the norm deserves further assessment. You should consult with an animal behaviorist or your vet before an aggression problem worsens. Some of the signs of aggression may include a fearful facial expression or body posture.
If you do find that anxiety is the cause for your dog’s aggression, you will need to schedule an appointment with a dog trainer or behaviorist to manage his behavior. Treatments for aggression are designed to support a dog so he feels less anger. Some of the devices, such as muzzles, keep a dog’s actions in check when you are walking him or you are with your dog and meeting other people. A muzzle enables you to protect your dog from self-injury, as well as any problems with injuries to other animals or people.
Taking Care of Anxiety in your dog
The above information has already focused on some ways you can help your dog. You just need to make sure that you address an anxiety issue as quickly as possible. In some instances, an underlying health issue may be the cause of his stress. Your vet, in this case, can assist you in finding ways to lower the dog’s level of stress.
Keep in mind that a dog that is stressed does not usually feel safe. Therefore, any activity that makes him feel safer will help. By providing your dog with a safe haven or giving him a towel or blanket, you can make him feel more loved and secure. Also, it is imperative, as noted, to play and exercise with your dog every day. Physical activities, including the game of fetch, are great ways to alleviate any feelings of anxiety.
Do not forget your dog’s nutrition either. Sometimes, dogs do not feel calm because they are fed the wrong foods. Just like humans, some foods may make them feel stressed or hyper. If you are not sure what to feed your dog, ask your veterinarian for advice. He or she can direct you to commercial products that offer adequate nutrition for dogs. You should also tell your vet what you are currently feeding your dog. Some foods are not canine friendly. Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure that all the foods you give your dog will meet his needs for calories and nutrition.
Calming your anxious dog
While people may consider their dog as an instrumental part of their household, they still should refrain by giving them the same foods to eat. Doing so can affect a dog mentally and physically, as a dog’s system is not the same as a human’s anatomy. That is why you should use care in selecting foods for your dog to eat. Just a mere switch along these lines can greatly help your dog and soothe any anxious feelings.
Make sure you provide your dog with a diet that is nutritionally balanced for his or her stage of life. Doing so will prevent certain health issues from surfacing, as well as stress and anxiety. Besides the above prescriptions for care, you also need to check the following:
If you notice that your dog paces a good deal, you need to contact your vet about a stress problem. Other dogs may shake more than normal. While it is perfectly normal for a dog to shake after he rolls in the grass, it is not normal at other times. Dogs may shake or pace repeatedly if they feel agitated. Make sure you have the problem checked or find the reason for the turmoil.
- Barking or Whining
A dog may also bark or whine more than usual if he feels stressed. While barking is normal in most cases, it increases when a dog feels stressed. A dog that is tense or afraid may be barking to get your attention – attention that will help him feel more soothed.
- Drooling, Licking, or Yawning
If a dog yawns, licks, or drools to extremes, they may feel stressed. Any type of nervous reaction can lead to these types of behaviors.
- Alterations in the Ears or Eyes
Stressed dogs are like nervous people, as they may blink a lot when they are nervous or their pupils may become dilated. Some dogs open their eyes real wide, exhibiting more of the whites of the eyes. Some dogs actually appear startled when they feel nervous.
- A Change in Posture
If a dog is stressed, he may shift all his weight to his back leg. Other times, he may cower. A scared dog will become stiff or tuck his tail under.
A show dog that is nervous during a show, often, will shed a good deal. Other dogs also experience excess shedding when they are feeling anxious.
While a dog often pants when he is feeling hot, he may also do so when he feels anxious. If you notice that your dog is panting and he has not exercised, he may be feeling stressed. He may also be sick. In either case, you need to contact your vet about the behavior.
- A Change in Bodily Functions
If your dog urinates more than usual, or he has a problem with diarrhea, he may be under too much stress. If you notice that his bodily functions have changed, you need to take measures to help him.
- Showing Avoidance
If your dog faces an unwelcome situation, he may try to avoid the circumstances around the event, or escape the area. Some dogs sniff the ground or will turn away. If your dog is showing avoidance, you need to find out why and do something about it immediately.
Another form of avoidance, a dog will hide, as well, when he feels anxious or stressed. Some dogs feel so much tension that they actually hide behind their owner’s legs. Your dog may even nudge you to move away from the area. If he is exhibiting this behavior, you need to find out why he feels the way he does. Some other diversion activities may include circling, digging, or slinking behind a parked car of a nearby tree.
As you can see, stress can affect dogs in various ways. You have to be somewhat of an investigator if your dog is exhibiting unusual behavior. By taking a proactive stance, you can get down to the bottom of the problem and help your pet. Find out more about what induces stress to protect your well-loved pet.