Like humans, dogs experience anxiety. It’s common for pets to experience nervousness, stress, and overwhelming emotions. Similar to humans, there are varying degrees and manifestations of these emotions. It’s hard to sit by as pet parents and watch as our pups suffer from anxiety. Calming them is no easy task, sometimes requiring the assistance of a vet or animal behavioral specialist.
Dogs often use body language to communicate how they’re feeling, so it’s important to pay attention if you notice your pet seems uneasy or is licking excessively, for example. She could be trying to tell you she’s nervous or fearful. Every dog is different, though and you will begin to observe your dog's own style of communication and determine the signals they use for indicating uneasiness or stress.
Symptoms can include pacing, shaking, excessive paw or lip-licking, decreased appetite, and frequent yawning, among others. If you notice a repetition of this behavior, your pet may be experiencing anxiety.
What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?
Past abuse, loud noises, fear, toxic environments, medical problems, or even other animals in the home can all be causes of your dog’s anxiety. If you want to help a dog who’s stressed, it’s important you determine the causes of these emotions.
Has something happened in your dog’s past that can give you an idea of why he could be acting this way? Is he a rescue pet? Could it be separation anxiety? Is your pup ill? These are the questions you must ask yourself to get to the bottom of why your dog is feeling anxious.
(Cali, our office dog, was the runt of her litter and we believe this is the cause of her anxious personality)
Tips for Calming Down an Anxious Dog
Not only does anxiety look different for every dog, but so does treatment and individual calming techniques. What works for one pet might not work for another, which is why it’s important to try a variety of different techniques and observe which ones your dog responds to.
The fix could be as simple as finding the thing that’s causing your dog stress and removing it. In other cases, you may need to call on a vet or qualified professional who can help determine the root cause of the anxiety and help to relieve it.
Here are 5 things you can try to calm your pet during stressful situations:
- Exercise: The same as with humans, exercise is a great stress-reliever for dogs. It stimulates the production of serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ chemical. It also gets rid of pent up energy, tension, and even emotion all of which can exacerbate anxiety.
- Physical Contact: Who doesn’t love a good massage? Physical contact with your pup can soothe her and calm her nerves. Studies have shown that petting dogs also relieves stress in humans.
- Calm Yourself Down: If you’re anxious, your dog will pick up on that. Take a deep breath, relax, and be patient with her.
- CBD: Dogs have an endocannabinoid system, similar to humans, allowing them to benefit from the properties of CBD Oil. Many vets comfortably recommend CBD for pets, despite scientific research into this new treatment still being in its infancy. CBD drops or dog treats can ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, seizures, digestion problems, and even moderate to severe physical pain caused by chronic inflammation, injury, arthritis, and joint pain. So, if you’re trying to calm a stressed dog, next time try some CBD oil. You can even put some CBD peanut butter, made especially for dogs, on the Slow Treater to keep them calm and distracted in stressful situations.
- Distraction Methods: If your dog's nervousness is situational, like when they hear thunderstorms or fireworks or are in a large crowd, then distraction can work wonders. When you engage their brain in physical work, they are less likely to focus on what’s causing them stress.
Try to distract them with their favorite chew toys or treats. When these things are unavailable or not an option, like when giving your pet a bath, use the Slow Treater to keep your dog distracted with their favorite wet dog food or peanut butter. We’ve heard from our customers that with the help of the Slow Treater, dogs stay engaged and distracted the whole duration of bath time. It can also be used when grooming or clipping your pup's nails.
Paying attention to what causes your dog stress, looking for options to ease their anxiety, and seeking the help of a vet or professional when necessary will all be helpful in calming an anxious dog. Have some patience, and don’t give up. With time and effort, your dog will overcome her symptoms of anxiety.
Written by Reggie Gates - May 2020