How to calm a dog down

How to Calm a Dog Down

We love or dogs ever so much, and our dogs live for our affection for them. There are times, though, it seems no amount of affection will alleviate the stress and anxiety that can overcome our four legged friends. When our presence alone is not enough to give them comfort, it’s helpful to have other tools and knowledge to us understand how to calm a dog down.  A better understanding of the cause of nervousness will help us keep our pooches calm and comfortable.

A variety of stimulating situations can be the cause of stress, or a singular trigger can result in an anxious dog. Some examples of triggers may be:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Being highly susceptible to outside stimuli
  • Unfamiliar dogs or people or too many of them
  • Conflicting roles
  • Underlying health conditions
  • Loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms

The challenge of how to calm an anxious dog comes in the variety of symptoms and learning to recognize them.

Clinical signs of stress

It helps to have a sense of familiarity with your dog’s typical behaviors and responses to be able to recognize the triggered responses.

The clinical signs of stress include the following:

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Whining or barking
  • Frequent prolonged yawning
  • Licking the lips excessively
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Hiding or escape behavior

For the professional vet or experienced dog owner who can recognize them, there are also some evident physiological effects from anxiety that may include:

  • Increased salivation or drooling
  • Unwillingness to take water or food
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid blinking
  • Excessive grooming
  • Shedding
  • Skin lesions

Nervous or hyperactive?

It’s important to note that we are discussing nervous or anxious dogs and will touch on naturally hyperactive dogs. 

There’s a difference between fear of outward influences such as thunder and boredom to the point where eating a couch is the right thing to do. 

Methods to address both situations will calm your dog and help them relax at times they would otherwise be scared, nervous, or bored. Reducing your dog’s anxiety is possible.

We’ll take a look at how to calm your dog down during in several scenarios.  

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relaxing dog - Jake
Relaxing dog – Jake

My experience with nervous dogs

I have seen all these signs as I have cared for many dogs through the years.

The one trigger that seems to create the most instantaneous stress is the loud sound from fireworks.  Thunder is just as troubling and threatening. 

One of our Pit bulls, Rusty, was afraid of nothing except thunderstorms.  Later on this article I’ll detail how we addressed that with him.  Today he can sit through the flashing lightning and booming thunder without a care in the world.

Several of our dogs suffered every year through about a week of the July 4th celebration.

It is never just one night, right?

They’d go through the panting and trembling, drooling and accelerated heart rate.

Sedatives didn’t help although they slept will the following day.  Closing the windows, pulling the drapes closed, and turning up the music and/or using white noise helped and for an unconditioned dog, that is probably the best approach. 

We need to work on conditioning our dogs over time so there is less nervousness during these anxious events.  A lot of anxiety later on in life can be lessened if appropriate and effective methods of introducing your dog to when you first bring it home. 

I have seen the stressful behaviors on walks when other dogs approach, especially when the other dog walker assumes our meeting along a sidewalk is an invitation to visit.

This is great when training a dog that is not anxious, but can become a tense or even dangerous situation with a nervous dog.

The key to success is being the calm and assertive (Cesar’s words) pack leader.  Much of this gets easier when you assume the calm and assertive pack leader role. If you are nervous or anxious, your dog will pick up on it.

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Dog and owner

The most important thing is you

The most important aspect when it comes to calming down your dog is you. 

Your dog needs you to be the calm and assertive pack leader so raising your voice, spanking, or becoming nervous yourself will not improve the situation.

If you’ve owned dogs for any length of time, you know they pick up on your energy.  For those new to dog ownership, this is something you must learn.

When you and your dog find lightning terrifying, you will have practically zero chance of calming your dog during a lightning storm. 

People need the conditioning first.  Cesar says he spends as much time, or more, conditioning dog owners as he does the dog.  This is entirely accurate.

How you respond to the nervous dog is important. 

The first inclination is almost always to love on them and hug them through the tough times.  It’s what we, as humans, do with our dogs.  But during a storm, for example, when the dog is nervous, hugging them actually isn’t the best approach. 

Doing so will encourage that kind of behavior rather than helping your dog deal with it better next time.

Hugging your dog through the storm is not the best approach

It’s a tough act.  Remaining calm and assertive – impassive even – when your pooch is trembling and terrified.

Regardless of the specific case, there are some things that are important upfront. 

Most important is that you understand that approaching this in a calm and assertive manner is key.  If you are nervous or upset, your pooch will pick up that and this becomes more difficult for both of you.

It’s also important to understand the triggers that cause your dog to become nervous or hyperactive. 

Is it storms?

The doorbell ringing?

A yelling kid? 

You coming home?

Knowing the triggers is important as we’ll use those triggers as a basis to begin to solve the problem.  How you react to the triggers and how you react to how the dog reacts to the triggers is important.

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scared dog

How to tell when your dog is nervous or scared

I almost didn’t add this section as many of the symptoms are obvious and if we know our pooch, we’ll know when said pooch is anxious. 

However, this page is also intended for new dog owners who may not know their dog well or perhaps just hasn’t been around dogs a lot.  With this in mind, I felt it’s worthwhile to outline some of the behaviors you’ll see when your dog is nervous.

It’s important to note here that just because we can’t see, hear, or smell something to be nervous about doesn’t meant the dog can’t.

Your dog’s smell and hearing is far better than yours and although his eyesight might not be, they still pick up things we don’t notice. 

I cannot count the number of times my dogs have alerted me to an individual walking down the road, or a deer deep in the trees that I didn’t notice. 

So don’t be too quick to write off your dog’s nervousness as there’s a good chance he has picked up on something you have not.

Some signs we see in our pack that indicate nervousness follow:

  1. Trembling

This is one of the more common ones and probably the most obvious.  If your dog is shaking or trembling, something is likely scaring him.

  1. Won’t leave your side

If your otherwise independent dog is all of a sudden attached to you at the hip, something is bothering him.

  1. Pacing

Many dogs, whether they are normally active or couch potatoes, will take to pacing when anxious.  We see our dogs do this from time to time and the really telling signal is when they pace, go lay down, and about 2 seconds later they are up pacing again.  This indicates that your dog is anxious about something.  They are trying to figure it out but can’t even lay down to rest as it prompts them to get back up and continue walking around.

  1. Hypervigilance

That’s all I could think to call this one.  You know what I mean.  Your dog is peering through the window intently, maybe shaking, maybe growling, and won’t leave it alone.  You look out and quite possibly don’t see anything but there’s something out there that has caught your dog’s attention.

  1. Licking

One of ours, Blitz, licks her front legs continuously when nervous.  We know something is up when Blitz is licking her front legs.  It’s a good bet a storm is on the way or there is some sound we aren’t quite picking up

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Puppy dog visiting veterinarian

Talk to your veterinarian

I would be remiss if I didn’t advise a conversation with your veterinarian. 

If you’ve been seeing the same vet for a period of time, that vet knows your dog better than anybody else and can provide science and experience backed advice. 

Each dog is different so specific advice for your specific dog from a professional who knows your dog best is always the best approach. 

Generic advice, such as what is included in this article, should always be tempered and weighed alongside what your vet advises.  Err on the side of listening to your vet.

It is useful to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be at play while your dog is under stress.

Identifying triggers can start with taking note of the signs and symptoms and when these behaviors occur.

You can then schedule a visit with your vet to discern the cause and decide on a remedy.

Consulting with your vet is the first best method of ensuring you are doing all you can for your nervous dog. Your vet may elect to consider anti-anxiety medication. If you are averse to resorting to medications, consider seeking the help of an animal behaviorist.  We’ll cover both in this article.

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How to calm your dog down during storms, fireworks, etc

As mentioned earlier, when the lightning is flashing, the thunder is booming, and the winds are whistling, dogs that are afraid of storms will either seek isolation or you will not be able to get them off your lap.

Ideally the dog has a sanctuary spot to go such as a crate, comfortable calming dog bed, or favorite room. 

In times of anxiety, your dog will prefer to be in your lap, under your feet, or in it’s sanctuary spot. 

Note that this safe spot is the dog’s retreat during nervous times and is a strong reason why that spot should never be associated to any kind of punishment.

Should you love or hug your dog through the fear?

Our inclination may be to hold them, pet them, baby talk them.  But that is the wrong approach.

Bear in mind that any time you do the above, you are encouraging the same behavior next time and you really aren’t helping your dog overcome the nervousness or anxiety. 

You could say you are encouraging it. 

They act scared, they get hugs. 

Note, this is not the same as counter-conditioning described below.  Hugging elicits a behavior response while counter conditioning is targeted and unavoidable involuntary reactions (salivating, for example).

Think of dogs in the wild during a storm. 

Would the pack leader coddle a scared dog?  No, it would go on about its business as though there is nothing to worry about and the other dogs in the pack would pick up on the fact that there is nothing to worry about. 

You’ll do well to mimic this. 

As the pack leader, you must remain calm and assertive, even to the point of being impassive.  Doing so will teach your pooch that there is nothing to worry about.  This will also help you get to the point where dogs get along with each other

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How to prepare your nervous dog for storms, fireworks, or other loud noises

Preparing your dog to not be nervous during storms is the preventive approach and highly encouraged. 

There are several approaches to take.  We recommend doing all of them over time and you’ll see your nervous dog gradually become less nervous in situations that cause them anxiety

Prepare your dog using several approaches at the same time

We have a couple of rescues that are brother and sister Pit Bulls named Rusty and Rocket.  When we found them they had been on the street for what appeared to be a pretty good length of time and both were pretty nervous.

They have since turned into wonderful companions and now realize they have nothing to worry about so have calmed down considerably. 

Rocket, the female, is afraid of absolutely nothing.  Big brother Rusty, however, used to tremble during thunderstorms.  We’ve had them for about 10 years now and for the first 8 we could do nothing to calm him. 

We started studying how to work with him and came across the concept of desensitization.  Nothing new here at all, I think we were just late to the game.

Desensitization

Desensitization works like this:

  • Find out what your dog is afraid of
  • Gradually, over time, expose your dog to varying degrees of his fear at such small levels it’s almost imperceptible.
  • Increase this exposure in terms of frequency and levels over time
  • Work on this consistently, with patience, over time. Think in terms of weeks or possibly months of gradual exposure, not days or hours.

…that’s about it.  Pretty easy stuff. 

The key here is that you must be patient and you must be in tune with how your dog is reacting. 

Do not force it and do not get upset if progress isn’t being made as fast as you want. You have to do this at the dog’s pace, not yours. 

Also, remember that if you get upset, your dog will pick up on that and it’ll be that much harder to make progress.

Recruit a friend to help with desensitization

Two things we did. 

First, we recruited his sister Rocket.  The two are just about inseparable anyway and we figured her calming influence would be helpful. 

We also bought a CD of thunderstorms and rain sounds.  Interestingly enough, this is intended to help humans meditate.  I’m sure you can find a download of it these days but there are plenty of inexpensive CD’s to choose from as well.

We played this at low volume throughout the day while Rusty was playing, eating, resting, etc.  It became a constant backdrop to our daily lives and was surprisingly relaxing for us humans as well as the rest of the pack. 

We thought he would be unnerved at first but he wasn’t.  He completely didn’t care. 

So over time we increased the volume and when we could see it was affecting him, we backed it down a bit and then just kept up the constant barrage of low level storm sounds.  This went on for weeks, by the way.  I’m not implying we did this all in a day or two.

During those weeks, we had actual storms that came and went. 

We live in Georgia and the storms are severe.  I can remember waiting anxiously as the weather forecast called for the first big storm after we had started Rusty’s desensitization, wondering how much progress we had made. 

As it turned out, practically zero.  Rusty was terrified as always.

Desensitization occurs over time

But, we weren’t going to give up so we continued with the backdrop of thunder and storm sounds.  We humans had actually come to appreciate it as well.

In the end, I can only say that at some point, and I’m not sure when, Rusty’s desensitization just seemed to kick in.  One storm he was afraid, the next he wasn’t.  At all.  He just didn’t care. 

I can only attribute it to the constant effort and exposing him to the backdrop of storm sounds as there is simply no other explanation. 

Today, he’s fine. 

We still listen to the CD from time to time but for our own relaxation and enjoyment.  The sounds meant to help humans meditate are pretty good at calming dogs also.

The process above can be used for anything that your dog is afraid of. 

Fireworks? 

Go through the above but with sounds of fireworks or explosions. 

Probably won’t be as relaxing to you as our storms sounds were to us but I’m confident the result will be comparable. 

I feel like the key here is to expose your dog to it all the time, or as often as possible.  Very low levels while the dog is sleeping seems to work as well as at more obvious levels throughout the day.

Counter Conditioning

No, this isn’t about how your dog can get onto your kitchen counter in any kind of condition. 

Counter conditioning is the act of continuous reinforcement with “good things” to help your dog overcome something. 

Importantly, the “good thing” here must cause an involuntary reaction, not a behavior.  The obvious one to shoot for, and the easiest, is salivating. 

What makes your pooch salivate? Good treats!  The idea is that you associate salivating with the scenario that causes them anxiety.

Feed them treats they love during the “bad times” and they’ll come to associate those bad things with good treats.  Remember Pavlov and the bell?  Same concept.

The idea behind counter conditioning is to condition your dog over time to associate something that is feared to delicious treats.  If those are dog calming treats, that’s even better.

Counter conditioning and storms

Lets take storms as an example.

If you know storms are to be moving through and you know your dog will be anxious, at the very first sign of wind, thunder, lightning, or rain you should begin giving your dog his favorite treat and continue doing so throughout the storm.

Note, this can amount to a LOT of treats so keep calorie count and general health value of the treat in mind.

When the storm stops, the treat stops.

Another storm, start in with the treats again.

Over time, your dog will associate storms with the treats – he’s been conditioned to not fear the storm. He’s now thinking in terms of delicious treats rather than scary lightning.

Two critical aspects of counter conditioning are time and consistency:

  • Time – you must start with the treats early, before the dog has become fearful of the storm. Start too late, when he’s already scared and he will associated the treats to fear instead so be early on this rather than late
  • Consistency – you must do this for every storm.  Every time.  No exceptions.  Until your dog is truly at ease in a storm.  The counter conditioning process is easy to relapse from if you skip “sessions” or learning opportunities.

If you pooch is afraid of physical things rather than noises, the process is a bit different, but the underlying concepts are the same.

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Calm your dog down around physical things, like the trash truck

Unless you want to buy or download sounds of a trash truck and play them around your house 24/7, we need to find a different approach. 

From a very basic perspective, the intent should be the same, however. 

Frequent low level exposure over time, increased at a pace that is acceptable to your dog. 

If Fido freaks out when the trash truck comes around, then we need to expose him to more trash trucks.  And probably not just trash trucks but any large and loud vehicle.  School buses, semi trucks, heavy equipment such as bulldozers, etc. 

Exposure to any of these types of vehicles in a comfortable way will help him desensitize.  It’ll be a good deal more effort than playing music at the house, but the outcome is worth it.

Where to find loud vehicles

Think of places where large vehicles are constantly in motion and that you can stand on the periphery with your dog so you aren’t up too close.  I’m thinking school bus yards, truck stops, landfills, busy intersections, etc. 

Since we’re talking about a lot of traffic, I recommend a very sturdy leash and harness to ensure there’s no chance of him running off.

Don’t start right up in the mix of things. Take him to the very edge where he can observe but not be nervous. 

Have some treats handy and be patient, it’ll take time. 

If you have chosen a busy intersection, hang out a few streets back where there is less traffic and just play with him or let him sit and observe.  As he settles in, move a bit closer…literally a few steps.  If he gets nervous, back up a bit. 

Eventually you’ll find the sweet spot where he’s watching the traffic but not nervous.  When he stops watching the traffic, it’s a good time to move a bit closer.  If he’s not watching it, he’s probably not afraid of it, so move a bit closer.

If you’ve chosen a different place such as a landfill or bus yard, use the same approach.

It always feels like a landfill is an interesting place because of the size of the vehicles that come through and the smell.  To us, not a pleasant odor but to dogs, it can be heaven so they are getting the stimulation from the smells they love while also gaining visibility, hearing, and proximity to very large vehicles. 

So take a trip to the dump (you don’t need that chewed up couch anyway) and take your nervous dog with you.

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Calming toys

There is a wide variety of toys that are designed to help calm your dogs. 

These are great in that they become little buddies for you dogs and if these toys live in your dog’s crate, for example, this will elevate the calming effect of your dog chilling in his crate.

These toys can have pheromone emitters, heartbeats, heat packs, and other things to help your dog overcome it’s nervousness. 

We use these and highly recommend them. 

They aren’t great for chewing dogs so keep that in mind but they make great additions to crates or other safe sanctuaries for your dogs.

Our favorite is the one made by SmartPetLove – the Snuggle Puppy behavioral aid toy.

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Medications and chews to calm your dog down

We use these quite a bit.

Calming chews are great in that they are enticing treats for you dog and they just work. As treats, you want to make sure they are safe and healthy for your dog so be sure to check the ingredients to make sure there is no corn, no wheat, no soy, no GMO, etc.

Calming dog chews are good to soothe nervousness or anxiety in the types of situations above but they have also proven effect for things like motion sickness, leash pulling, etc.  So not just for nervous dogs during thunderstorms, but they also do well to calm your dog in many other scenarios as well.

Anti-anxiety medications for dogs can be helpful if the over the counter chew type ones aren’t quite strong enough.  Of course, work with your vet to understand what is best and also side affects to look out for.  

You can find a large assortment of calming chews.  We find work well.  Again, each dog is different and may react (or not react!) differently so  you may want to try more than one:

PremiumCare calming treats for dogs  – 8,000+ reviews

Zesty Paws calming bites for dogs – 5,000+ reviews

NaturVet – Quiet Moments Calming Aid for Dogs – 3,000+ reviews

VetriScience Laboratories- Composure, Calming Behavior Support Supplement for Dogs – 3,000+ reviews

 

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Aromatherapy to calm a dog down

Aromatherapy for dogs

Does aromatherapy work for calming dogs down?

History and science suggests that it does. 

Bear in mind that your dog’s sense of smell is highly evolved and their canine brains are hardwired to connect scents to experiences.  Some fragrances have been shown to have a more calming effect than others. 

Lavender, in particular, has a strong affect and can calm an otherwise anxious dog.

How do I use aromatherapy to calm my dog down?

You’ll read a number of methods, from rubbing essential oils on the dogs skin to a more passive approach of having full time diffusers throughout the house. 

We go with the full time diffusers as we have seen that it seems to have a noticeable approach over time.  Note that we are also engaging in other active calming practices at the same time so I cannot point my finger at aromatherapy (or any of the others) and say it has had the most affect. 

However, when we run out of the diffusers, we see a noticeable difference in the anxiety levels of our naturally nervous dogs.

Many advocate rubbing diluted essential oils right onto the dog.  It makes for an enjoyable session for human and dog alike.  Rubbing the oils into the neck, behind the ears, etc will work wonders for their mood and their levels of anxiety.

Are pheromones a part of aromatherapy?

They can be. 

Quite a few products on the market today are available and many vets recommend them.  We use them as well. 

Pheromones are a good alternative to giving your dogs medicine to affect their anxiety. 

Our experience shows that pheromones work well over time and, as discussed above, are effectively used in diffusers throughout our household. 

It’s a good hands-off and passive approach.

Dog-Appeasing Pheromones (DAP)?

I have taken to using some touch with my most nervous dog that replicates how mama would have cared for him as a pup.

It has made this dog more affectionate toward me.

In similar fashion, there is a synthetic chemical available that is based on a hormone that is produced in lactating dogs, the mama, in other words.

It is known as a dog appeasing pheromone (DAP), which is a hormone that transmits the calming effect on puppies and encourages the bonding between mother and baby.

You can get this chemical in a collar or as a plug-in diffuser with replaceable vials.

While humans cannot smell it, it has been proven to work with puppies. It is not clear whether it has the same effect on adult dogs that are anxious although some owners say they have had success with it. 

As mentioned a few times already, each dog is different so it’s probably worth testing it out.

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Music therapy for dogs

Music therapy to calm your dog down

Music therapy is a another great approach to calming your dog down and has some strong scientific backing

We discovered this quite by accident when we left a jazz station on as we left the house one day. 

When we came back, the dogs were noticeably less energetic. 

When we return to the house, we’re normally met with energetic bursts of affection.  You know the deal. 

When we came back and had left the jazz music playing, their response was different.  We actually thought maybe they had done something so thought they were in trouble or perhaps even sick. That’s how different the response was from what we normally saw.

It took us awhile to realize it was the music.  At the time we chalked it up to strange dog behavior but noticed the correlation again later.

Miles Davis for the win!

I’m not saying or even trying to imply that a good Miles Davis track is going to turn your Jack Russell into a lethargic and unresponsive pup. 

Not at all. 

Just that in our case, we happened to see a marked difference when jazz was playing and we continue to take advantage of it this day.

Given the above, we are strong believers that music therapy for dogs works.

You can find a lot of products on the shelf for this, many made by very well known brands.  However, our thought on this is that each dog may react differently to different music so it may be a trial-and-error thing to find the right music for you. 

Cycle through your Sirius/Spotify/Pandora playlists.  You might find that Buffy reacts differently to Billy Idol than Fido does.  (hey, I’m an 80’s guy!).

I’m not sure you need to run out and buy a music therapy playlist for $49.99 since you most likely have music in the house or at least the means to bring some music in. 

I’d say go that route and see what works.  If you are really pressed to drop a few greenbacks on this, head on over to your favorite Amazon page and type in “dog music therapy”. 

In fact, I did it for you. 

Just click here and you’ll land on Amazon with the search results all ready to view.

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Wearable Items for Alleviating Stress

The “I love my dog market” is huge and growing daily. 

There are products on the market for everything you can think of and many you can’t – all for your dog. 

We tend to take them all with a grain of salt until we see significant positive reviews (in the thousands) and have tried them ourselves. 

Below are a couple that work.

The Thundershirt

The Thundershirt is an anti-stress item for your dog that is basically a tight-fitting jacket.  It is designed to wrap around the body to mimic a swaddling effect. This same concept is used for people who experience stress. The weight of the cover is comforting. However, this is something that should be avoided for more significant stressors, such as when you leave them alone. You can possibly induce fear if your dog suddenly finds he wants nothing to do with this garment.

Calming collars for dogs

Here’s a new one – I find these interesting.  Take the above about pheromones and essential oils and combine it into a wearable and you have the calming dog collar.

If you are a fan of helping your dogs become less anxious passively over time, then this is an excellent approach.

Given the strength of a dog’s senses in terms of smell and pattern recognition, I’m a strong believer in the approach of using fragrances and pheromones so am also a big believer in the dog calming collar.  We will be doing a separate article on this shortly.

The general concept here is that the collar it emits calming pheromones that, since it’s on your dog’s neck, are easily taken into the dogs system.

Some have little refillable containers but the one I find most interesting is the type that is simply activated by your dog’s body heat.

Put it on, and it just works. 

It can be worn in addition to his regular collar. 

As mentioned before, every dog is different so this may work well on one dog but not the other. 

At about 15 bucks, it’s a fairly inexpensive thing to test out.

Our favorite calming collar can be found on Amazon here.

Calming caps for dogs

I don’t much care for these but they are a “wearable” so feel it’s worth bringing up. 

We know how blinders used on working horses limits their vision thus reducing the stress response. With horses, they have little defense from threatening attackers, which is why their eyes magnify everything.

With your dog, you can get a calming cap that helps limit the visual stimuli while still allowing them to see. When the cap is applied with gradual care to avoid sudden panic, it serves to limit your dog’s sight without desensitizing them to the purpose of the cap.

We’ve never tried this one as just the images of dogs wearing them makes me not want to try it. 

If you try it and see success, we’d love to hear about it.

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Exercise dogs to reduce stress

Exercise to Reduce Stress

We humans benefit from the relaxation that results from exercise, and your dog can benefit the same way.

The physical activity relieves tension.

Taking a walk or playing fetch helps stimulate serotonin production. This is the same hormone that helps us humans feel relaxed after working out.

Sometimes, dog anxiety is nothing more than a lack of exercise.

Getting out and burning off the pent-up energy goes a long way to help alleviate nervous tension and even ease separation anxiety. Being outside also provides a means of distraction. Dogs are migratory by nature. They thrive on exploring the grounds and checking out the smells their many nasal receptors can detect.

I find it interesting that simply going for a walk works wonders to calm you dog. 

I often find my dogs are every bit as calm after a moderate walk as they are after 30 minutes of fetch or swimming.  There’s less physical exertion but more “paying attention” and focus on what you, the owner, want and are doing. 

I believe this focus serves to calm them down a good bit as well.

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Dog massage

Doggie Massage

If you have enjoyed the effects from a good massage, then you know how soothing it can be. 

Massages are a great way to calm a dog down. Long, slow strokes or circular movements with the fingers and hands all over your dog’s body help activate cellular function.

You can apply the same method of constant contact and continuous massage as delivered by a professional masseuse.

Animals are immediately receptive to the soothing effect of touch. For that matter, studies show that petting your dog or cat calms your own nerves. Massaging your dog is a win-win situation. It can calm the both of you.

Add essential oils to this massage to elevate the soothing results for you dog.

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Puzzle Toys and Food Toys

Dogs love to play. We do not always have the kind of time to devote to their need for attention.

That is why I am grateful there are puzzle toys and food toys available to help redirect a dog’s focus into productive play.

These devices offer the necessary preoccupation that provides a distraction from the stress that can trigger anxiety.

These are toys that roll around as they play with them.

It calls upon their ability to master the capture if it rolls away from them.

The food toys have a place to hide a tasty treat that requires a dog to use their ingenuity to retrieve it. Typically made from resilient material for those who love to chew, these devices hold a dog’s attention and gives them a satisfying distraction.

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Animal Behaviorists

In many ways, our dogs benefit from some of the same treatments humans use.

Among these is behavior modification.

If your regular vet thinks it could help, he or she can refer you and your pup to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. This is an approach that helps to change or reprogram your dog’s emotional response to the offending situations.

The animal behaviorist never uses devices that deliver pain as a preventive measure.

Not only are devices such as pronged collars or electric shock collars dangerous, but they are more likely to reinforce more fear and anxiety, the exact opposite effect you need to establish. Anxiety can grow into something that just keeps getting worse unless it is addressed while it is manageable.

The behaviorist is a specialist who has completed a residency of at least three years in clinical behavior medicine.

They are board-certified experts in treating dogs for such issues as fear, anxiety or aggression.

You can access a directory of all the currently board-certified veterinary behaviorists through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists website.

 

Wrapping it up…how to calm a dog down

The science shows us that stress has a negative effect on health. This is the same for your pooch. Further, the ongoing stress of living in fear or enduring an anxiety disorder can produce illness and shorten the lifespan. That does not mean giving up.

Solutions may not always be quick or easy, but wouldn’t you want the same consideration of a patient and loving care giver? With love and devotion, the right tools and professional help, both you and your dog can enjoy a healthy and happy long life together.

Finally, while there seems to be interest in pursuing CBD products for how to calm an anxious dog, the experts do not recommend this as a remedy until more studies are conducted regarding their effectiveness. It is not possible now to speak to the potential adverse effects.

The best advice in general is to be supportive and patient. Back to the top

 

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