Anxious Dogs

We believe a calm dog is an easier to love dog.  A calm dog is a dog that is easier to keep safe.  And a calm dog is a dog that will stay healthy longer.  Of course, an anxious dog is the exact opposite of these.  Anxious dogs are more likely to be unhealthy, more likely to find itself in unsafe situations, and can be a bit harder to love.  

We love all of our dogs regardless of their mindset but this can be a challenge for some so we want to help you ensure your dog is anxiety free as much as possible.  Making the dog easier to love and care for helps ensure it’s happy and always has a good home.

With this in mind, we focus on helping dog owners figure out how to calm their pooches down.

High anxiety dogs, dogs that are nervous around loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms, and dogs that get a bit too hyperactive when you have visitors over can all be worked with, over time, to become calmer.  

Getting started right

When you first bring your new dog into your household, there are a number of things you can do to help introduce the dog into your family in a way that will set the stage for the future.  Getting this right up front will go a long way towards ensuring the new dog is well adjusted and, therefore, more less anxious in the future. 

It’s important to understand where the dog is coming from (literally and figuratively) as this has a bearing on the dog’s mindset and will help determine how to best work with him or her.  If the dog has a rough past, perhaps it was abused, then you need to take that into account.  I had a rescue named Jake that was deathly afraid of brooms but literally nothing else. I knew I just had to accept that and keep brooms away from him. 

Understanding things like this will enable you to work with the dog to help them either overcome their fears or allow you to recognize that it’s going to be easier to avoid them.  It really wasn’t that hard to keep Jake away from brooms.  

Work with your veterinarian

Throughout these pages, you’ll see this repeated quite a bit.  Always consider your own vet as the best source of information.  Your vet knows your dog better than anybody else, or at least your vet should.  If not – if your vet isn’t interested enough to really know your dog – find a new vet.

Since we run a rescue, we are extremely close with our vet and they know every one of our dogs by name and on sight.  We trust them entirely.  We’ve had heartbreak a few times and sometimes the vet has to give bad news.  But hearing that kind of news from a person you know and trust is easier to swallow and you’ll do far less second guessing down the road.  Get to know your vet – it’ll pay off in terms of ease-of-mind, I promise.

Much like your own doctor, your vet will understand the particulars about your dog.  Is the breed naturally anxious? Is there anything you can do about it’s hyperactivity?  (I’m looking at you Chihuahuas!).  Or is it a more laid back breed where you can expect, perhaps, less anxious moments.

But note that even typically hyperactive breeds can become calm given the right environment and love.  For those that need help, anti-anxiety medications can be prescribed but again, work with your vet.  Over the counter “calming chews” are one thing and safe (although I would still talk to my vet) but harder medicine to calm your dog down should only be given when prescribed by your vet. Importantly, this applies to benadryl – I bring that up as we see questions on it a good bit.  Again, we strongly recommend a chat with your vet.

Counter Conditioning to help your anxious dog

Counter conditioning is a method by which you provide your dog with something that is physiologically stimulating rather than behaviorally.  This usually revolves around using tasty treats and doing so ahead of the normally anxious event.  Doing this ahead of the event teaches your dog to associate the upcoming event with good things. 

As a quick example, if your dog is afraid of thunderstorms and you know a storm is on the way, begin feeding tasty treat before the wind and the thunder starts.  Doing this consistently over a period of time – often an extended period of time – will condition the dog to associate storms with tasty treats rather than scary noises and will help them cope with storms better.  

I mentioned an extended period of time above.  This is important.  This is not a quick fix but rather an effort that you will need to consistently work over many months. 

Dog beds, toys, food, etc. 

You have toys. I have toys.  I sleep in a nice bed.  I imagine you do as well.  You eat good food, lord knows I do as well.  These are things we take for granted but are also things that should be given strong consideration for the dogs in our lives. 

I love it when folks tell me my dogs are spoiled.  Yep, they are. 

And they deserve it. 

They bring me happiness so I’m more than happy to ensure they have what they need to be happy as well.  Often, that just means a lap to lay in but sometimes they also need their favorite chew toy, favorite bed, favorite neckerchief, favorite whatever, as well as the best food I can find.  

We probably go overboard here in that we spend inordinate amounts of money on food from our local Tractor Supply store.  My wife mixes kibble, soft food, coconut oil and other stuff into individual bowls for our dogs.  We have eight right now so this is no small feat. 

We also subscribe to bark box so they get regularly scheduled toys.  Rusty recognizes the boxes and has a great time tearing them apart. 

We’re ultra careful about chew toys these days as we lost one of our best friends to one.  Read about that here:  Chew toys can kill.

We also spend a good bit on comfortable calming dog beds to ensure they have good places to sleep that promote a calm demeanor. 

Please have a look around and let us know if you like what you see or if you’d like to see something specific.  Send us a note and we’ll work on it. 

Anxious dog articles

pit bull on calming dog bed

The best comfy, calming dog bed

I started writing this with the intention of creating a sort of “dog bed review” article here but instead will focus on the single comfy calming bed for dogs that…

1 comment
Anxiety meds for dogs - veterinarian

Anxiety meds for dogs

Anxiety meds for dogsWhen things went from bad to worse for my friendDogs are intelligent, social creaturesThere are three main causes of anxiety in dogs:1.  Separation anxiety is a big…

2 comments
relaxing dog - Jake

How to calm a dog down

How to Calm a Dog DownClinical signs of stressNervous or hyperactive?My experience with nervous dogsThe most important thing is youHow to tell when your dog is nervous or scared Trembling…

3 comments
Bruno the boxer puppy posing

How to introduce a new dog into your home – 13 topics

Taking in a new pooch is serious businessBringing the dog home – allow some decompression timeBe prepared for stomach issuesWhere the potty?Creating a welcoming space for your new dogA new…

5 comments
Dogs-getting-along

Can all of these dogs really get along?

Can Pit Bulls and Rottweilers live together?What about Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dachshunds? Calm dogs are wonderful dogsCan they live together?  My wife and I run an unofficial dog rescue that…

Other articles

9 most dangerous food for dogs_transparent

The 9 most dangerous foods for dogs

The 9 most dangerous foods for dogsMacadamia nutsChocolateGarlicXylitolGrapes and RaisinsAlcoholCaffeineFruits with pitsRaw yeast doughOther harmful foods for dogs to considerApples SeedsHopsMoldy foodsLicoriceAvocadoMilk and other dairy productsWhat else?What do you do…

1 comment
Is garlic safe for dogs - garlic cloves - onions

Can dogs eat garlic?

Can dogs eat garlic?How much garlic is toxic for dogs?Why do so many say that garlic is good for dogs?What about garlic bread? My dog eats it all the time…

2 comments
Can dogs eat black olives - Blitz

Are olives bad for dogs?

Most likely, your dog is fineWhat is an olive?Are black olives good for dogs?Are black olives bad for dogs?Should I feed my dog black olives?My dog just ate a slice…

0 comments
Rusty the PitBull with reading glasses.

Grain Free Dog Food – Heart Problems? FDA weighs in

Grain Free dog food – heart problems?  FDA weighs in on the discussionFDA Investigates Dog Food linked to canine heart diseaseWhy might Grain Free dog food cause canine heart disease?16…

0 comments
Tactical dog harness on dog

The Best Tactical Dog Harness (2020)

The Best Tactical Dog Harness (2020)How comfortable is it?How safe is it?What can I add to a tactical dog harness?Tactical Dog Harness ReviewsIcefang Tactical Dog HarnessVivoi Tactical Military MOLLE Dog…

0 comments
Rusty - pit bull

Are Pit Bulls dangerous?

The Pit BullWhere do Pit Bulls get their name?Famous Pit Bulls through historyMiscellaneous facts about Pit BullsAre Pit Bulls good watchdogs?Are Pit Bulls dangerous?Are Pit Bulls naturally aggressive?Why do Pit…

Bruno the boxer with tennis ball

Are Boxers good dogs?

The BoxerIs a Boxer a good watchdog?Is a Boxer a good companion?The Boxer as a protectorDo Boxers drool?Are Boxers good with kids?Are Boxers good with other dogs?Are Boxers aggressiveWhat is…

0 comments
Dog eating chocolate

Is chocolate bad for dogs?

What makes chocolate dangerous to dogs?Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in your dogHow much and what type of chocolate is dangerous?What to do when your dog eats chocolate? I’ve been around…

1 comment
Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge – remembering our lost friends

We were given this on a memorial card when we had our first dog cremated.  It made us cry then and still does whenever we read it. Having lived with…

Shredded-dog-bed-Rudy-sleeps-on-it-anyway

Indestructible Dog Bed

Indestructible Dog BedThe story so farChew Proof BedsChew Resistant BedsNote on Kevlar bedsMaking your own indestructible dog bed – the DIY methodOur testing of chew proof and chew resistant dog…