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If your dog is bothered by anything, you can tell. After all, you know your pet best.
How to calm down a dog depends on the situation. Strangers, thunder, fireworks trees, garbage trucks, trips to the vet, and other animals can make your dog scared, anxious, or irritable.
If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you know you’re feeling nervous and stressed. Sometimes it can get overwhelming and even debilitating.
It can be very difficult for any pet parent to see how their dog is suffering from anxiety. You would do anything for him, but calming a fearful pet is not an easy task, and finding effective treatment usually requires help.
Our instinct is to pamper and cuddle, but there are better ways to handle the situation – ways that teach your dog not to be scared, anxious, or excited. To calm a dog, you need to interpret your dog’s behavior and take the time to understand what is causing your dog’s reaction.
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Causes of Anxiety in Dogs
The causes behind the fear your dog is experiencing can be as high as the signs and symptoms your dog is showing to show his concern. Some common causes of anxiety include past abuse, loud noises (such as thunder), medical problems, or other animals.
To help a stressed dog, it is essential to find out the cause of fear. Once you know how to recognize your dog’s stress signals, such as trembling or yawning often, you can learn to understand what can cause him stress.
Consider your pet’s history and reflect on its past. If he’s a rescue animal, there may be more question marks, so watch out for signs of anxiety. For example, if he shakes larger dogs, he may have had a bad experience with a large dog before reaching it for you and his eternal home.
Separation anxiety is another form of anxiety that is usually easier to diagnose. Typically, a dog with separation anxiety will perform while you are away and can chew or dig furniture, howl, pace, or go to the bathroom at home.
Signs Of Anxiety In A Dog
- bent posture
- averted gaze / dilated pupils
- ears pressed or slightly back
- frowning eyebrows
- trembling / shivering
- Sweaty legs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
How To Calm Down A Dog
Here are a few things you can try to calm your pet:
1. Play Music
You probably have a go-to song you listen to when you’re overwhelmed—but did you know that music can calm down dogs, too?
Studies have shown that playing music—especially soft rock and reggae—can reduce dogs’ heart rates, cortisol levels, and other symptoms of stress. There is even special calming music meant for dogs, too. It can help ease separation anxiety when you’re away from home and reduce stress during storms or fireworks.
Try putting on some tunes or switch on the radio the next time your pet gets anxious.
All dogs need exercise. However, some breeds need more training than others. There is a saying, a tired dog is a happy dog.
If your dog is feeling anxious, he may not be getting enough activity.
Just like in humans, exercise can be a great stress reliever. Physical activities like walking or retrieving will help both you and your dog release tension.
Even if you have a garden, it is still a good idea to walk Fido every day. Also, walking your dog allows him to explore and smell things outside their home, which can stimulate their senses. I call this checking the plasma.
3. Aromatherapy And Essential Oils
There are some balms and sprays specially formulated for pets that use the soothing properties of aromatherapy. Rub the spray or formula between your hands and dab your palms on your dog’s back: make sure he can’t get where you applied the pet-safe oils, so he doesn’t lick anything. Always follow the instructions on the label for proper use.
4. Soothe Your Pet
If music, aromatherapy, and exercise don’t help, try these soothing strategies:
- Put your dog in a dark room with no external stimulation. This is not a time out, but a way to relax and reset. It can help to put some of your clothes there.
- Never underestimate the power of physical touch. Slow, stable pets and belly rubs can make a big difference.
Check your stress levels. Dogs can feel and feed your fear. Take a deep breath and make sure you speak in a calm voice.
Just like in humans, touch can help relieve stress in dogs. When Fido is stressed, you may not be giving him enough physical contact.
Some locations on a dog or cat’s body – such as the feet, ears, and top of the head – are natural pressure points where just 15 minutes of massage makes a world of difference to your pet’s stress level, reported PetMD.
Also, dogs are beasts of burden. Your dog should spend time with you. No matter how busy you are, make sure you take the time every day to give Fido your undivided attention.
6. Give Them A Time Out
some dogs become so anxious or excited that no amount of calming, praise, or reward will work to bring them down, unlike young children.
When this is the case, they need a quiet area without stimulation where they can turn off all input and just relax.
7. Talk To Your Veterinarian
They can advise you on which measures work best – behavioral or medical.
If necessary, you can get a prescription for more potent drugs. Only give these to your dogs if your vet has prescribed them and do so according to the vet’s instructions.
Four types of medications are most commonly used to treat behavioral problems in dogs. These are benzodiazepines (BZs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Reinforce positive behavior and discourage negative behavior. When your dog jumps, barks, and becomes too hyper, don’t immediately reach out to pet or calm him down. This can teach your pet that this behavior works to get your attention quickly.
Instead of making eye contact, don’t touch your dog when it behaves this way. If ignored, your dog can stop and calm this behavior.
If your dog copes positively with stress, don’t forget to reward him with something tasty!