Dogs are very much like people in that they experience anxiety, too. They can feel anxious or stressed for a variety of reasons. You’ll know your dog is feeling anxious when he exhibits some unusual behavior, which is why it’s important to pay attention to the signs of anxiety in dogs. There are also some ways on how to calm a dog with anxiety, including some natural calming aids and practices.
Why is Your Dog Anxious?
Dog anxiety may come from either separation, fear, or old age. Dogs that are not used to getting separated from family feel anxious when left alone. They may also experience anxiety from fear, whether it’s a loud noise or being introduced to unfamiliar territory. Elderly dogs also tend to experience anxiety as their memory, perception, and awareness begin to decline.
Signs of Stress in Dogs
Anxiety in dogs can show in different ways. If your dog cries for you whenever you have to leave the house, you’d of course want to know as much as possible about how to stop dog anxiety. Pooping, barking, and howling are other behavior that may occur when your dog has separation anxiety. Some critical signs of a stressed dog include:
· Excessive drooling
· Excessive barking
· Accidents inside the house
· Destructive/ compulsive behavior
Aggression to people or other animals can be dangerous and must be taken as a warning sign that something more serious may be going on. But if your dog shows any sign of being anxious, whether it’s because of fireworks outside during the holidays or you having to leave the house for work every day, certain steps need to be taken. It’s important to know how to calm an anxious dog down.
How to Calm an Anxious Dog
If you want to help your dog cope with anxiety, you’d need to have a clear understanding of what causes him to be anxious. With patience in training, you can help him cope with anxious situations and prevent unpleasant episodes and even danger.
Physical contact. Being very social creatures, dogs in general love to cuddle and get close to their owners. If his anxiety is triggered by, fear, you can try cuddling him and talking to him in a calm, soothing voice. Watch his body language to see if physical touch is what the situation calls for. There are dog anxiety wraps and vests available in the market. You can have your dog wear in situations such as thunderstorms or noisy holiday festivities, as a physical way to calm him.
Counterconditioning. Counterconditioning is a form of training wherein you aim to alter your pet’s response to anxiety-producing stimuli. You can train him to sit, focus on you, or engage in your desired behavior when he is exposed to stressful situations. This requires constant repetition. Offer treats and praises whenever he gives the desired response. Training is an effective method if you want to learn how to calm your dog anxiety naturally.
Toys can be helpful in helping establish a desired behavior. When he becomes destructive due to anxiety, offer him high-quality chew toys to help him relieve stress. If he stops destructive behavior to play with his toys instead, offer him a treat and praises to reinforce the good behavior. There may be cases when you could use the help of a professional animal trainer to modify dog behavior.
Desensitization. To desensitize your dog to what causes his anxiety, give him slow and gradual exposure to whatever is causing him to act out. Upon repeated exposure, the effect on him will eventually lessen until he’s no longer affected by the stimuli. Reward him for positive behavior.
Desensitization can be especially effective if you want to know how to stop separation anxiety with dogs. A good rule would be to ignore him for a short period of time before you leave and after you return. It may be hard not to say goodbye, but you’d be doing your dog a favor.
Set aside time on a weekend for training. Repeatedly leave and enter your house, staying outside a few minutes at a time. Leave cues such as picking up your keys or putting on your shoes to let him know when “it’s time” for you to leave. If you want to show how to break a dog’s separation anxiety, don’t enter the house if he’s howling or barking. If behaves while you’re “gone” reward him with praises and treats.
Consult the vet. If the symptoms of anxiety are severe, it’s always a good step to seek help from your vet. The vet could help you define what causes your dog to be anxious and whether or not, there’s an illness or a medical condition that needs further attention.
Anxiety medication. In extreme cases, the vet might prescribe medication, along with a treatment plan that includes training and preventive tactics. Anxiety medication may come in the form of sedatives and drugs, to be administered along with behavior modification training. Some pet owners also recommend essential oils like hemp oil and CBD oil as effective in soothing dog anxiety.
Exercise and socialization. In most cases, dogs get anxious because they aren’t given some outlet to spend their pent-up energy, especially in the case of hyperactive dogs. A well-exercised and well-socialized dog is less prone to stress than one that’s cooped up inside the house all day. Exercise is an especially good for older dogs, just as long as you don’t overdo it.
How to calm my anxious dog? If you have a dog who gets anxious when facing certain situations, try the tips above to calm an anxious dog down. Application of some dog training techniques could also be extremely helpful. Reducing stress requires understanding why your dog is feeling anxious and being watchful of symptoms. The vet could help shed light on the cause. With patience, training, and medical help, you can help your dog adjust better to any situation, whether it’s being separated from you or being introduced to unfamiliar people and places.